David Cassidy's Final In-Depth Interview: How He Stayed Strong in the Last Year of His Life

David Cassidy died Tuesday of organ failure, almost a year after he revealed his dementia diagnosis

David Cassidy, a 1970s teen heartthrob emblematic of the era, died of organ failure Tuesday at the age of 67. His death comes almost one year after he revealed he’d been suffering from dementia to PEOPLE in what would become one of his final longform interviews.

At the time, the Partridge Family star admitted he’d been “in denial” about the memory loss disease, which both his mother and grandfather battled.

“In the end, the only way I knew she recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room,” he said in February 2016 of his mom Evelyn Ward, who died in 2012 at the age of 89. “I feared I would end up that way.”

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But in the last year of his life, Cassidy didn’t dwell on his diagnosis, choosing to focus on his friends, family and fans after a decades-long career in music and TV.

“In the end, I just want to be happy. I really want to be happy,” he told PEOPLE. “If I want to have a great life like I have now, I’ve got to just stay on track. I love that I’ve had an amazing life that has touched millions of people all over the world. I’m flattered. The world need more kindness.”

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“I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I’ve been without any distractions,” he added. “I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”

He also gained a new perspective on the struggles of his past: Cassidy publiclyadmitted he was an alcoholic in 2008, and he also battled substance abuse issues, which involved a stint in rehab in 2014.

Though those issues once drove a wedge among his family, Cassidy was surrounded by loved ones when he died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And he was always grateful for the support of his devoted fans.

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“I’m kind of in awe of them. Truly,” he told PEOPLE. “To be that connected and supportive of someone it’s a very beautiful and emotional thing for me…everything, it has more meaning.”

Cassidy is survived by son Beau with ex-wife Sue Shifrin-Cassidy; his daughter Katie; his brothers Shaun, Patrick and Ryan; step-mother Shirley Jones; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

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