David "Kidd" Kraddick, the likable Dallas radio personality whose popularity expanded nationwide after his morning show was syndicated, died on Saturday at the age of 53.
He passed away in New Orleans at a fundraising event for his Kidd's Kids charity organization at Timberlane County Club in Gretna, Louisiana.
Local law enforcement confirmed that Kraddick was taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans on Saturday.
Richie Tomblin, described as the head golf professional at Timberlane on its website, told AP that Kraddick wasn't looking well when he saw him getting ready for Saturday's charity event.
"He came out and he borrowed my golf clubs and went out to the driving range," Tomblin told AP when contacted by phone. "It's kind of a freaky situation. He came out. He practiced a little bit. He hit the ball at the first tee and wasn't feeling good and after that I didn't see him."
Tomblin said the hundreds of amateur golfers taking part went ahead with the event Saturday. He added he only found out afterward that Kraddick had died and he was still shaken about it.
"I'm still trying to figure it out. I really don't know what happened. Everyone keeps texting me asking, `What's going on?' I really don't know," said Tomblin.
He added he was reluctant to even touch the set of clubs Kraddick had borrowed Saturday for his practice swings.
A staple of North Texas radio for almost three decades,he broadcast his nationally syndicated "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning" radio show from a studio at Las Colinas. It aired locally on KISS-FM 106.1.
Loyal listeners made a pilgrimage to the studio overnight, leaving flowers, candles and posters in his memory.
"All of us at KISS-FM, Clear Channel Dallas, YEA Networks and the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning crew are heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend and leader," a statement from Clear Channel Dallas said late Saturday night. "He died doing what he loved, and his final day was spent selflessly focused on those special children that meant the world to him."
The cause of Kraddick's death was not released. Clear Channel said that information will be made available "at the appropriate time."
Kraddick's family issued a brief statement asking that their privacy be respected in their mourning period.
KISS-FM altered its usual format late Saturday to celebrate Kraddick's life by playing music and taking calls from listeners.
"I can't believe this is actually happening," one caller said. "He's a part of everybody's family; he makes people laugh."
In a bitterly ironic twist, Kraddick did a radio segment just last week on "what he would say to each member of the show in his final moments on earth" as a comedy bit.
"Have you ever thought about those last moments of your life?" he asked his radio crew. "Nobody wants a long, lingering illness; nobody wants just that; but it would be nice if you could have a day or two where you know it's coming."
He then spent several minutes saying goodbye to each member of his on-air staff.
"When I die, you have permission to take a bunch of creepy pictures of my body," Kraddick said. "I want to thank all of you guys for being at my deathbed today. I'm going to miss you so much."
The final message posted on his official Twitter account was a promotion for his Kidd's Kids charity concert at the House of Blues on August 15. The proceeds will be used to send children with chronic or terminal illnesses to Disney World.
"Kidd's heart was what made him who he was, and he wasn't hesitant at all to invite anyone into his life," said singer Tim Halperin who will appear at the August 15 concert. "It wasn't just a radio show; to the people in the Metroplex, Kidd was a great friend."
The news of Kraddick's death was greeted with disbelief on social media.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban offered his condolences: "You were an amazing man and a friend," he wrote. "You are already missed."
Regular fans were saddened as well. "I have listened to Kidd for the last 25 years," wrote Jackie Small Brown on Facebook. "Morning radio will never be the same again."
"Seems like I've just lost a friend, " Holli Younger said on Twitter.
And Tucker McLendon tweeted: "I think Monday all radio stations should have a moment of silence for Kidd."
Kraddick was divorced and has one daughter. He won a number of awards, including the Marconi Award for radio personality of the year in 2006.
WWL-TV in New Orleans and the Associated Press contributed to this report.