Larry Strickland remembers days before his wife Naomi Judd died: 'I knew how fragile she was'

Larry Strickland remembers days before his wife Naomi Judd died: ‘I knew how fragile she was’

Larry Strickland shares fond memories of his late wife, Naomi Judd.

During CMT Naomi Judd: The River of Time At a special memorial Sunday, Strickland took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, to talk about the country legend, who died by suicide at the age of 76 on April 30.

“Naomi has never met a stranger,” said Strickland, who married Naomi in 1989, while standing next to her two daughters, Ashley Judd and Winona Judd. “To my dismay, she would start a conversation with anyone who made eye contact with her, and we would end up standing 10, 20, 30 minutes on the sidewalk while talking to a complete stranger about their passion and their dog.”

Related: A day after her mother’s death, Winona Judd tearfully accepts the nation’s highest accolade: ‘My Heart Is Broken’

He then shared how Naomi flew home from Vienna, Austria, in anticipation of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and noted that it was unusual for her to fly alone. She returned via Chicago on April 29, one day before her death and two days before her Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“I was really scared to death as she was flying alone all the way from Vienna back to Nashville because I knew how fragile she was,” Strickland said. “Well, she came home without any problem.”

Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd and Winona Judd

Mickey Bernal/Getty Images Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd and Winona Judd

During her trip, Naomi seems to have made such a good impression on the man sitting next to her that he emailed Strickland shortly after her death.

Referring to the message as “comfort and relief,” Strickland said the man didn’t realize Naomi was famous when she got on the plane with her. However, she told her husband that “the next 90 minutes we spent in each other’s company were not only entertaining, wonderful, and informative, but totally fun for me at least” in the letter.

“It’s a small relief, I’m sure, but my life seems much richer after meeting your wife, but for a while,” the note continued, which visibly elicited an emotional response from Strickland onstage.

“Obviously I didn’t know Naomi at all, but I can tell you she spoke loudly and warmly about you, and the life you shared together,” read the heartfelt email, which Strickland recited while choking. “Rest assured she loved you and has no objection to telling me, as if I were a stranger on a plane, that it was.”

The man concluded his letter by telling Strickland of the “measure and effect” his late wife had left on him during their short time together, and Strickland told the audience that the letter had provided me with “great pleasure and great comfort”.

Naomi Judd: Celebration

Naomi Judd: ‘River of Time’ Celebration

Mickey Bernal/Getty Images

Related: In a salute to mum Naomi Judd, Winona announces that her tour will continue: ‘This is what she wants’

Elsewhere during the memorial gala, Wynonna, 57 – who posed with Naomi as country duo The Judds – revealed that she plans to meet the scheduled dates for the upcoming “final round.”

“I made a decision, and I thought I was going to do it on national TV, after a lot of thought, I’m going to have to honor her and take the tour,” Winona said, tears running down her cheeks, the crowd, as well as the CMT viewers at home. “The show has to go on, as hard as it gets, and we’ll show up together, and you’ll carry me like you’ve carried me for 38 years… So we’ll continue with this scene. That’s what you want, right?”

Winona Judd, Ashley Judd, and Larry Strickland

Winona Judd, Ashley Judd, and Larry Strickland

Katie Koss/Getty Images Winona Judd, Ashley Judd, and Larry Strickland

Her announcement on stage—which was answered with thunderous applause and cheers—arrived toward the end of an evening that was, as Winona herself described it, “devastatingly beautiful.” The event took listeners not only through the many timeless classics of The Judds, but also deeper into other music that touched the hearts of both women.

Related: Ashley Judd confirms Naomi Judd’s death by suicide: ‘The lie the disease told her was very convincing’

Ashley, 54, opened the evening by welcoming the Holy Mother Church of Country Music, explaining, “This is where my mom wanted her public celebration to take place.”

She went on to describe her mother as “every woman. Maybe that’s why everyone felt like they knew her.” However, she added, “She was absolutely exceptional: the winner of five Grammy Awards, the multi-platinum artist, and the Hall of Famer acclaimed by millions.”

2022-05-16 19:50:34

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