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/ Source: TODAY
By Julia Curley

Before his tragic death on Monday, Luke Perry fell in love with Wendy Madison Bauer, a family therapist working in Beverly Hills, California. Outside of Hollywood’s spotlight, Perry and Bauer spent over a decade together.

Bauer, 44, broke her heart-wrenching silence on Saturday and shared her grief for her fiance’s passing.

“I want to express my gratitude to everyone for the outpouring of love and support,” Bauer said in a statement to TODAY. “The countless, heartwarming stories of Luke’s generosity and kindness have been a great source of solace during this difficult time. The past 11 1/2 years with Luke were the happiest years of my life, and I am grateful to have had that time with him.

“I also want to thank his children, family, and friends for their love and support. We have found comfort in one another and in the knowledge that our lives were touched by an extraordinary man. He will be dearly missed,” she continued.

Perry died suddenly at the age of 52, after he was hospitalized on Feb. 27. Five days before his death, he had an unexpected, massive stroke at his home in Los Angeles.

The "Beverly Hills, 90210" star took his last breaths, while surrounded by loved ones. According to the late star’s publicist, “his children Jack and Sophie, fiancee Wendy Madison Bauer, ex-wife Minnie Sharp, mother Ann Bennett, step-father Steve Bennett, brother Tom Perry, sister Amy Coder, and other close family and friends” gathered around his bedside.

Perry shared his two children, Jack, 21, and Sophie, 18, with his first wife Rachel “Minnie” Sharp. The pair split amicably back in 2003, but remained co-parents and friends.

While Perry’s first wife shared his interest in television, even appearing in the film "Teen Wolf Too," Bauer, 44, led a more private life with Perry. The pair were photographed infrequently but appeared together at the GLAAD Media Awards in April 2017.

Bauer, like Perry’s children, entered the media eye only to share her love for Perry, the person rather than the beloved actor.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, just a day after her dad’s passing, Sophie shared a photo of herself with the late star.

“A lot has happened in this past week for me,” she captioned her Instagram. “Everything is happening so fast. I made it back from Malawi just in time to be here with my family, And in the past 24 hours I have received an overwhelming amount of love and support.

“I cannot individually respond to the hundreds of beautiful and heartfelt messages, but I see them, and appreciate you all for sending positivity to my family and I,” she wrote. “I’m not really sure what to say or do in this situation, it’s something you aren’t ever given a lesson on how to handle, especially when it’s all happening in the public eye. So bear with me and know that I am grateful for all the love. Just, being grateful quietly.”

One day later, Perry’s son Jack shared his own heartbreaking words in an Instagram post of his own.

“He was a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, he was always Dad,” the pro wrestler wrote. “He loved and supported me in everything, and inspired me to be the best that I could possibly be,” he continued. “I’ve learned so much from you, and my heart is broken thinking about everything you won’t be here for. I’ll miss you every day that I walk this earth.”