HOUSTON -- Stars don't get much brighter than Patrick Swayze.
"My dream growing up was I wanted to be as athletic a dancer as Gene Kelly and as smooth as Fred Astaire, but I wanted the cool of Frank Sinatra," said Swayze in a 1995 interview.
Local dance instructor Enrique Ramon knew the Swayze family even before Patrick was born here in Houston in 1952.
Ramon says as a boy, Patrick was a fixture at the dance studio where he taught with Swayze's mother, Patsy. ??
"We always knew Patrick was around there somewhere, " Ramon said.
Cookie Joe, who took dance lessons from Swayze's mother, says she had the opportunity to dance with him.
"He was so much more accomplished a dancer than what he showed in that movie. He was so much more capable and yet he will always be known as a dancer for the movie 'Dirty Dancing,'" Joe said.
"Dirty Dancing" might have been the spark that launched his career, but 1991's "Ghost" turned Swayze into a leading man.
Swayze's star could not have burned brighter. Over the years he would make more than 30 films.
However, fame did take it's toll. Swayze battled alcoholism and was a heavy smoker. In January of 2008, he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and underwent extensive chemotherapy, but never stopped working.
Most recently Swayze, endured the grueling shooting schedule of a recent television series called 'The Beast', all the while vowing to keep fighting the disease that often kills patients within months.
"I want to last until they find a cure, which means I have to get a fire under it," said Swayze to Barbara Walters on ABC in 2009.
Now his friends remember that stubbornness in a good way.
"That same personality trait is probably why he's lasted so long. He wasn't going to give in. That's how he always was. Even as a kid," said Joe.
Patrick lived his dream and now his dream will live on in the memories of his fans, friends and family.
"He'll be remembered with Fred Astair, Ginger Rogers and all the greats of dancing. He'll always be there," Ramon said.