CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Friends and high school classmates of longtime Fox News CEO and Ohio native Roger Ailes say he was down-to-earth and never forgot his Midwestern roots.

The 77-year-old Ailes died Thursday morning at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Ailes was born in Warren in northeast Ohio and attended Warren G. Harding High School. Classmates say he was a conservative Republican as a teenager and held strong beliefs.

Ailes built his fame and fortune in TV and politics in the power centers of New York and Washington, yet friends say he always stayed in touch and occasionally returned to Ohio for visits. They say he donated substantial amounts of money for hometown projects.

Ailes retreated to Florida after allegations of sexual harassment ended his Fox News career.