While fighting his own demons, David Cassidy always wanted to bring joy to others — and during his final days, that’s exactly what he did.
“David was a kind a sweet soul,” good friend and longtime publicist Jo-Ann Geffen tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “He carried a lot of baggage that weighed his small frame down, but he tried to always make the world a better place.”
“This has been a catalytic time in the family, an opportunity for them to unite and share the joy and sorrow of David’s life,” she adds. “He was a complicated man — he had tremendous highs and tremendous lows until finally the lows got the best of him.”
Last week, the ’70s teen heartthrob died of organ failure at the age of 67. His death comes almost one year after he revealed to PEOPLE he’d been suffering from dementia in what would become one of his final long-form interviews.
Once news broke that Cassidy had been hospitalized, his family — including his son Beau, daughter, Katie, brothers Patrick and Shaun, and ex-wife Sue Shifrin — dropped everything to be by his side.
“There had been many family issues because of his alcoholism, but they are all reuniting in support of him,” a source close to Cassidy previously told PEOPLE. “He was delighted to see them. When his brother Patrick walked into the room, David lit up like a Christmas tree. There’s been total resolution within the family. They will always be there for him.”
“No one made me laugh like David,” his brother, Patrick, tells PEOPLE. “We spent our final days together just laughing. David told me, ‘You’re so damn handsome!’ and I replied, ‘I’m just taller.’ ”
And his son Beau didn’t leave his dad’s side.
“I’m so grateful that I was able to hold and love the best friend I’ll ever have in his last moments,” he says.
Despite their strained relationship, Cassidy’s daughter Katie rushed to his side as well.
On Friday, the Arrow actress shared a heartbreaking tweet honoring the late star.
“Words cant express the solace our family’s received from all the love & support during this trying time,” she wrote. “My father’s last words were ‘So much wasted time.’ This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love as to never waste another minute… Thank you.”
In his last in-depth interview with PEOPLE in February, Cassidy closed the conversation similar to how he closed the last chapter of his life — with gratitude.
“I love that I’ve had an amazing life that has touched millions of people all over the world,” he said. “I’m flattered. The world needs more kindness.”