Kotb talked to ET about her phone call with Gifford.
"I called Kathie after his passing and she talked about how he had been frail when he had last seen her but all she could think about were these years and years of the richness that they had together and he said the best years of his professional life were the ones spent with Kath, and I just thought to myself, 'Wow,'" she tells ET's Rachel Smith. "Anybody who met Reg -- you met him a million times, loved him."
"I think, you know, what strikes me when I think of him coming in this studio is how he belonged with us," she says. "And when I say us, I don't just mean Kathie Lee, Jenna and me -- our people who are on-air -- he belonged with the crew. Like, he delighted in entertaining people. Didn't matter if cameras were on or off and he always kind of led with kindness and he always just seemed happy to be there."
"Like, he would come on and have a fun little, you know, cameo role," she continues. "He'd be like, 'What's my motivation, what should I do, where do I stand?' Like, he had us all laughing and I remember just thinking he had such grace."
"I saw Reg get out of the car with Joy and I sensed much more fragility than I had seen in him since the last time in January out in Los Angeles," she said. "We just had the best time. After they left I thought to myself, 'Lord is that the last time I am going to see my friend?' Because he was failing. I could tell."
"I was just so grateful the Lord gave me that final time," she added. "It was so precious. When I talked to Joy the day I found out, right after he passed, she said, 'Kathie he hadn’t laughed in a long, long time.' She said, 'I was so worried about him.'"
Back in October 2015, ET spoke with Philbin, Gifford and Kotb all together, when Philbin and Kotb showed their support for Gifford as she was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Philbin and Kotb playfully fought over their close friend.
"Fifteen years together, she was incredible," Regis told ET of Gifford, before teasing that she might have downgraded by pairing up with Kotb.
"Now eight years with this one, and so-so, you know?" he cracked.
Hoda playfully shot back, pointing out that Gifford didn't win an Emmy until she joined her on the Today show.
Gifford replied, "I did get my Emmys with Hoda, but when I finally left the show with Reg, that's when he got his. I was the problem with that."