Tribune staff and wire reports
11:34 AM EDT, June 15, 2014
Casey Kasem, the longtime radio host of "American Top 40," died Sunday at 82, according to his daughter Kerri.
"Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends," Kerri said in a Facebook post. "Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers."
Kerri's publicist Danny Deraney said Kasem died at 3:23 a.m. Sunday at St Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash. He said members of the family were with him at the time of his death.
Deraney said Kasem's wife Jean, who has been battling his children from his first marriage over medical care, was "still in Los Angeles, as far as I know."
Kasem also was the voice of Shaggy in the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons and one of the most recognizable voices on American radio. Kasem suffered from Lewy body disease, a form of dementia with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease and hallucinations.
Kasem, whose final years were marked by dementia and a battle between his children and his second wife over his welfare, last week was placed in "comfort-oriented care" in a Washington hospital after a judge approved his daughter's request to do so.
He was receiving pain medication, but not food or water, after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy determined that feeding him would have been detrimental to his health.
"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars," Kasem, a Detroit-born Lebanese-American, told millions of listeners at the end of his invariably cheery weekly radio program, which ran from 1970 to 2009.
On his syndicated show, Kasem counted down the 40 most popular songs of the week in order, finishing with the No. 1 song. Before each song, Kasem told an upbeat anecdote about the singer's road to success and read letters from listeners.
At its peak, Kasem's show was heard on more than 1,000 stations in about 50 countries. "I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That is the timeless thing," Kasem told the New York Times in 1990.
"American Top 40" and its numerous spinoffs were radio mainstays over next four decades, and Kasem's warm, distinctively husky tenor became one of the country's most instantly recognizable voices.
Reuters and Los Angeles Times contributed.
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