Remembering a legend. Kenny Rogers‘ ex-wife, Marianne Gordon, looked back at her relationship with the country music singer after his death. “He was an incredible person,” she exclusively tells Closer Weekly.

Marianne met the “Islands in the Stream” singer in 1974. They wed in 1977 and welcomed their son, Christopher Cody Rogers, in 1981. “It’s very upsetting when I start talking about him,” the 74-year-old says as she held back tears. “For 17 of 21 years, every day, he was so sweet.”

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“I always felt his total focus was on me. If anyone wanted anything from him, he was looking me in the eye and said, ‘Whatever she wants to do,'” the Rosemary’s Baby actress continues. “I think that when he turned 50, I didn’t have his full attention anymore but it looked like he still wanted me here. His life was such an open book and after two years he felt this craving, this longing. He said he felt he was having a mid-life crisis. He felt like his career was fading.”

She went on to reveal that “The Gambler” singer used to have a fear that his career in country music may be coming to an end. “Kenny used to say he had dreams he would go to perform and there wouldn’t be anyone in the audience,” Marianne says. “That was a nightmare to him. That was a repeated dream for him.”

Despite his insecurities later in life, the Hee Haw star says Rogers “was a pleasure to live with.” “He was always in a good mood and had a wonderful sense of humor about things,” she continues. “And he really didn’t change with fame.”

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The couple were married for 16 years and divorced in 1993. “The end of a relationship like that can be devastating, but there were so many fabulous memories. I like to think about those,” Marianne explains. “We had a sweet child together and he is 38 now.”

Rogers died on Friday, March 20, at 81 years old. “Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” his family confirmed in a statement posted via social media.

Even though Marianne was not with Rogers as a couple at the time of his death, she still holds fond memories of him and the years they spent together. “I couldn’t say enough nice things about him and how special he was,” she says. “So many people have called to remind me of the wonderful things Kenny did to help his friends and mine, including buying a car for a friend’s mother. He was such a kind, good person.”