Florence Henderson‘s Dancing with the Stars pro partner Corky Ballas will miss “America’s mom” just like the rest of the world that said goodbye to the Brady Bunch matriarch on Thursday.
Henderson, who played the beloved Carol Brady on the early ’70s sitcom, was surrounded by friends and family when she died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering heart failure, the actress’ manager Kayla Pressman said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday.
PEOPLE spoke with Ballas, who worked with the actress on season 11 of the reality dancing competition series, about the impact she made in the ballroom — and on his life.
“Florence is going to be dearly missed. This lady was a sweet, positive, amazing woman — even more so on the inside than the outside. And she will be truly missed. Her work ethic was amazing. If she told you to get there at 10 a.m. and you got there at 9:45 a.m., you were late. She was one of those. She was just an inspiring woman to everyone around her: hair and makeup people, the crew, everyone. She included everyone. It didn’t matter where we were, that woman always had time for everyone around her.”
“She really was America’s mom. I’ve been around a lot of celebrities because of Dancing with the Stars and I can tell you she was a very rare woman. Really rare — and inclusive. Just an inclusive, classy lady. She was an amazing woman. She would also say, “Enjoy your life every day because you never know when it’s going to be your last.” She used to say that every day to me, to the crew.”
“She was 78 when we danced together and she did amazing. She pushed herself. She tried to do much harder things that she could physically do. You couldn’t ask for a more determined woman. Now she’s dancing with the real stars.”