People don't give enough credit to the cancer. I honestly believe jobs was only able to do the impressive work he did because he knew he was dying. Had it not been for that drive, apple would be nearly as popular as it is today.
During his 8 year swan song, he managed to lead apple's skyrocket from garbage to the #1 valued company in the world. At the time of his death, it was #1. Not just the #1 tech company, but the highest valued of all companies in the whole world, period. That's an accomplishment I think anyone would be proud departing this life after. Even if the cancer was a slow and painful killer... what a way to go out with a bang.
He wasn't just an american icon, he became a global icon. Despite apples numerous design and marketing accomplishments, I still think apple's fanbase was in large part a cult of personality focused on steve. With his passing, regardless of the competence of his successor, it just won't be the same.
I am not an apple fan by any means. I do own an ipad2 and I recognize and may even respect steve's accomplishments. I am glad to see him go because now there is hope that the 'apple' era may finally end and we all might get to see something new and different in the industry, if any other company has the balls to step up.
It does sadden me that steve's apple was the only company I could foresee bringing *wearable* computing to the mainstream. If he had lived another 10 years, it may have happened. Now it might still happen, but it will take longer and isn't nearly as likely to become 'cool'.