Former Bush Spokesman Tony Snow Dies at 53

Tony Snow, a conservative political commentator who seemed to relish his brief stint as President Bush's White House press secretary, died in Washington, D.C., on Saturday of colon cancer at the age of 53.

"America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character," President Bush said in a statement from Camp David, where he was spending the weekend. "It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work."

Bush said his family's thoughts and prayers are with Snow's wife, Jill, and their three children.

White House aides told ABC News that the president tried to phone Snow last month but Snow was unable to speak to him. It was a sign of how Snow's condition was deteriorating.

The former Bush spokesman had been hospitalized for several weeks, telling friends he was having difficulty recovering from an intestinal problem. He and his wife, Jill, were upbeat and gracious with friends and reporters who called to check on him.

"For those of us battling cancer, he was beyond inspirational," said ABC News' Robin Roberts, who is a breast cancer survivor. "We are deeply saddened by his passing but will not forget his valiant fight.

"I also had the privilege of interviewing Tony in his office on his last day at the White House. He talked movingly about his cancer, his family, and was quite emotional at times," Roberts said.

As press secretary, Snow almost always wore a yellow "Live Strong" Lance Armstrong bracelet with his suit at the White House podium. As a former newsman himself, he charmed the White House press corps and was widely liked by reporters.

Snow's last on-camera White House briefing was Sept 12, 2007, when he said, "You know, everybody talks about what a horrible job it is to brief the press. I love these briefings and I'm really going to miss them."

Snow served as White House press secretary for 17 months, but left the White House podium shortly after being diagnosed with a reoccurence of cancer.

Doctors removed his colon in 2005, and he completed six months of chemotherapy. A cancerous growth was removed from his abdominal area in March 2007 and he spent five weeks recuperating before returning to the White House.

When he resigned as Bush's chief spokesman last September, Snow didn't cite his health, instead arguing he had taken a pay cut to work at the White House where he was paid more than $168,000 a year.

Snow explained he simply "ran out of money" and his White House job doesn't provide the salary he made in prior years as a Fox News anchor and conservative pundit. He later joined CNN in April as a commentator and did some other broadcasting work.

"Cancer has nothing to do with this decision," Snow said in April, 2007.

Snow thanked reporters, White House colleagues, family, and friends for their endless support saying, "Anybody who does not believe that thoughts and prayers make a difference, they're just wrong."

"I'm taking a cancer cocktail this time around -- a chemo cocktail that's going to contain two agents that were not in broad use two years ago," Snow said.

Standing beside Snow as he announced he was leaving the White House, Bush said he "sadly" accepted Snow's desire to leave his post telling the press, "It's been a joy to watch him spar with you. He's smart, he's capable, he's witty. He's capable of-- He's able to talk about issues in a way that the American people can understand."

"I love you and wish you all the best," Bush told Snow a year ago.

Snow served as the first host of the television news program "Fox News Sunday" from 1996 to 2003 and was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006.

Where McClellan was cautious, Snow was a showman, cheerfully sparring with reporters in daily White House briefings.

As a former television commentator, he seemed to ooze charm and played to the television news cameras which delighted his White House bosses.

Popular among conservatives, Snow was the first White House press secretary tapped to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.

Reacting to his death, Vice President Dick Cheney's press secretary, Megan Mitchell, said, "[I] spoke with the vice president earlier this morning and he is aware of Tony's passing. He is deeply saddened by the news. Tony Snow was a friend of the Cheneys and their thoughts and prayers are with the Snow family."

ABC News' Robin Roberts and Tom Giusto contributed to this report.