When Artie Strout was 2 years old, he toddled over to his father’s guitar, balanced it precariously on his lap, and started picking at the strings and babbling.

Artie Strout and his wife, Kristy, at their wedding. Photo courtesy of Kristy Strout

His father, Arthur Barnard, felt overcome with love for his eldest son at that moment.

Now, he thinks of that toddler babble and the lyrics of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Simple Man,” about a man’s wishes for his son when he grows up:

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast/ Troubles will come and they will pass/ You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love …”

Barnard says the lyrics mirror what he wished for Artie in that moment as he watched his son’s little fingers pluck at the nylon strings.

Those wishes for Artie 40 years ago came to pass, he said. Barnard was proud of his son.


Artie’s parents separated when he was very young, and both went on to have other kids. Artie has 10 surviving brothers and sisters.

He met his wife, Kristy Strout, 16 years ago. He was confident and charming, she said.

“Oh, he thought he had it in the bag before he had it in the bag,” Strout said, laughing at his courtship. “I don’t think I’ll ever feel that amount of love that I felt for him again.”

They both had difficult childhoods and wanted to build a happy and stable life for their blended family of five kids: Marcus, Milo, Summer, Logan and Brianna. And they did.

Artie, who was 42, was always there for the kids. He would wrestle with them and tease them. He drove them to school each day. His presence in their Auburn home was palpable. He had a goofy and infectious laugh that sounded like a giggle from deep in his belly.

“He had the dorkiest laugh that got everyone laughing,” said his friend Maria Wilson. “Like even if you didn’t want to laugh, you would laugh when he did.”


Artie was a Christmas person. Sometimes as early as Halloween, he would get all his kids together, clean the house, put on Christmas music and put up a tree in the living room. He’d fix the branches so they sat just right. Then Kristy and the kids would wrap the tree in tinsel and lights. If it wasn’t perfect, he’d go back to make sure it was, that it looked like a picture in a magazine, his wife said.

Artie fixed computers and worked on cars, but after back surgery a few years ago, he went part time and stayed home with the kids while Kristy worked.

“He always took care of me and the kids, and he just spoiled the kids rotten,” she said.

He also went out of his way to help other families. He’d drive the kids of family friends to school and make sure they had enough food in the house.

Artie was passionate about pool and played in a competitive league. He was at Schemengees Bar & Grille on the night of Oct. 25, practicing for an upcoming game.

He relished the simple things in life: his family, holidays, a good game of pool.

And he was steady, his family said. He could always make you laugh. He showed up. He said “I love you” often.

“We built a life, and we worked hard to build this life,” said his wife. “Now half of it is crumbled.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.