I actually thought that Gene Patton had already died, having been victim of one of those celebrity death urban legends that plague otherwise intelligent people. One part of the legend was sadly true: namely that he had lost his legs to diabetes, a cruel irony to befall one of pop culture's favorite dancers.
Note that I say "favorite" dancers, rather than "greatest" or "most accomplished" or whatever. From a technical or artistic standpoint, Gene Gene was nothing to write home about. He had one job: to shuffle around to "Jumpin' at the Woodside," occasionally tossing up a fist at flourishes in the music, in later seasons having all manner of junk thrown at him. But the thing about Gene was that he simply shined joy from every pore while he danced. He was the dancing everyman, lost in the moment, not caring a bit if he looked silly, being ridiculously happy at just being able to dance, causing everyone around him to join in because how could you not? His dancing, if not artistic on the surface, was still the purest form of the art at its core.
Farewell Gene. You brought joy into the world for many, many people, and nobody can have a higher legacy than that.