"He was thinking about her. He loved his wife, he adored her," Sean Hannity tells PEOPLE of of late Fox News co-anchor Alan Colmes, who death at the age of 66 was announced Thursday

By Brittany King
February 23, 2017 04:02 PM

As a “heartbroken” Sean Hannity mourns the death of his longtime friend and Fox News sparring partner Alan Colmes, he also wants to celebrate the life and selfless spirit of the late political commentator.

Speaking with PEOPLE, the Fox News Channel host opened up about the loss of his colleague and close friend, who died at the age of 66 after battling a brief illness.

Though the details surrounding Colmes’ illness have not been released, Hannity says that when the radio and television host first learned of his health issues, Colmes’ first thought was to shield his wife, Jocelyn Crowley.

“[When] we first talked about it, you know, typical Alan style, his first statement to me was, ‘I don’t want my wife to worry or be upset,’ ” Hannity recalls. “He was thinking about her. He loved his wife, he adored her.”

“She’s a wonderful woman, and I know she’s struggling today,” he adds. “Alan always put other people ahead of himself.”

The former Hannity & Colmes co-hosts were more than just colleagues, they were great friends who were able to grow together.

“Alan was just a great guy, really awesome. We were really blessed [with the show]. We got hired, neither one of us had a lot of TV experience; we had to collaborate really strongly to survive,” says Hannity. “We worked very hard together on that. I know people remember us for our political differences, but our personal differences did not exist. We were good friends. He was a great man, kind, generous, wonderful, and the world is a little less nice today in my opinion.”

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Hannity & Colmes launched Oct. 7, 1996, and ran until Jan. 9, 2009, showcasing the pair’s strong opposing political views.

“Alan believed everything he said, and I think that was one of the reasons for the great success of the show,” he adds. “He really believed in what we were talking about. He worked so hard and was really such a big part of the success of the channel and show. He accomplished a lot more than anybody would have ever expected. We grew together. When we first started, we both felt like the luckiest people in the world and we both worked hard to make the show what it became, the number one show in the slot and we were both very proud of it — two lucky guys who got a shot of a lifetime.”

If there was one thing about the former stand-up comedian that Hannity loved was, of course, his sense of humor.

“Even though we had political disagreements, how could you not love Alan?” Hannity says. “I can’t tell you how many of my conservative friends that have been on the show with Alan for years, he was our favorite liberal — the nicest liberal. He was the guy you wanted to hang out with. He was the real deal. I’ve always said the hardest people to debate are comedians, because they could make a great point and then ten minutes along, they come out with a joke — Alan was the best at that.”

“It used to drive me nuts,” laughs Hannity. “But he had a wicked sense of humor. The good thing is, when the show was over, the show was over, and we weren’t talking about politics. We agreed to disagree.”