Julie Foster taught thousands of kids how to dance in her time as a choreographer after she opened the Jay Bee Theatre School, in Barugh Green, more than four decades ago.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was just 56 years old - but her husband, Peter Foster, said she never stopped smiling.
“We suspected there was something wrong because of how she was,” the Monk Bretton man said.
“Surprisingly the diagnosis took nearly two years.
“She went to see all kinds of specialists but it wasn’t until her third scan, a PET scan, that revealed it - but we kind of knew.
“I don’t think that Julie was 100 per cent aware of what was going on.
“I think she was crying because I was.
“It’s a very cruel condition.
“People associate it with memory loss but it’s way more than that.
“Everyone would always mention Julie’s smile.
“Even the staff in the hospital would mention it - she really lit up the room.”
Julie’s condition started to deteriorate earlier this year, leaving her in hospital before she died peacefully on December 2 - but she was still dancing until the very end.
“She was in hospital at the time because her condition had deteriorated,” Peter said.
“Myself and Julie’s two boys were at her side.
“She brought such joy to everyone’s life.
“We were sat in the room talking and I think Julie was listening and enjoying the memories we were sharing.
“We played some of her favourite music and even on the penultimate day she was still moving her legs in the rhythm.”
Julie was a talented dancer from the very start, but it was always her goal to open up her own dance studio - something she excelled at.
“She was the most full of life person that I’ve ever met,” he added.
“We met in a panto and she was the choreographer.
“After a few years we got together and she always took the mickey out of me for the way I walked on.
“Julie had two boys and I had two sons as well as four grandkids, all boys.
“Dancing was her life and she always wanted to open her own school.
“She had it for 37 years before the disease took over.
“We couldn’t walk down the street without bumping into people she knew.
“She’s taught three generations of some families.”
Her hard work was highlighted back in 2017 when there was not a dry eye in the room when she picked up her Proud of Barnsley Special Recognition award.
“She was suffering then but she loved it,” Peter added.
“It was good for her to get recognition for what she’d done.
“The extra time she put in for pupils and the opportunity she gave people was amazing.”
Julie’s funeral will take place on Tuesday at Barnsley Crematorium at 11.30am.
Peter has asked for no flowers, but instead donation boxes for BIADS and Butterflies - two organisations close to Julie’s heart - will be placed inside the chapel.
Those attending are asked to wear pink.