Naomi Judd's Husband Larry Strickland Breaks Silence After Her Death

Naomi Judd may be gone, but her family and fans will never forget the country music legend. The music industry stood still for a moment on April 30 when Naomi's daughter, Ashley Judd, announced the devastating news of her death. "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," Ashley tweeted, adding that she and sister Wynonna Judd were "shattered." The two sisters also bravely took the stage the day after their mother's death, as the Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

While Ashley has been the most open family member after her mother's untimely death, Naomi's husband, Larry Strickland, has remained out of the spotlight since the news broke. According to The Boot, Naomi and Stickland wed in 1989, and Naomi's daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, were bridesmaids for their special day. The couple regularly gushed about one another in interviews, and they had what appeared to be a picture-perfect romance. "Larry and I are both from a family of six, very blue-collar," Naomi told Closer Weekly in 2013. "He worked in the tobacco fields every summer. My daddy had his own gas station and taught me the hard-work ethic. Larry is the most humble person I've ever met." How sweet is that?

Since the news of Naomi's death broke, the entire family has been grieving, including Strickland. He finally had some words to share about his late wife with the public, and it's enough to bring anyone to tears.

Larry Strickland shares fond memories of Naomi Judd

Naomi Judd's beloved husband, Larry Strickland, is publicly remembering his late wife for the first time. According to Entertainment Tonight, Strickland had nothing but fond memories as he spoke about Naomi as part of her CMT special "Naomi Judd: A River of Time," named after Naomi's 2016 memoir that detailed her battle with depression. Strickland shared that his wife "never met a stranger," and loved to have conversations with people. "Much to my displeasure, she would start a conversation with anyone who made eye contact with her, and we would end up standing 10, 20, 30 minutes on a sidewalk while she talked to a complete stranger about their passions and their dog," he shared.

According to Taste of Country, Strickland also revealed that he had received a letter from a man who sat next to Naomi on the long flight from Vienna, Austria to Nashville, Tennessee. The passenger said he enjoyed an "entertaining, fascinating and enlightening" chat with Naomi, adding that she had an "impact" on him even in such a short encounter. What a fantastic story and great memory that happened shortly before Naomi's death.

In the wake of the singer's death, many wondered what the fate of The Judds tour would be. According to Wynonna's Instagram page, the tour was supposed to kick off in the fall of 2022, but it was unclear how they would move forward after Naomi died. However, during Naomi's memorial, Wynonna announced she would perform without her mother, per Entertainment Weekly.

Larry Strickland says Naomi Judd was 'fragile' days before her death

While he never claimed to be Naomi Judd's primary caretaker, it's clear that Larry Strickland took looking after his late wife very seriously. Naomi was supposed to attend her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and even hopped on a plane alone, which was unusual for her. It was a cause for concern for Strickland, who said that Naomi was in a "fragile" state at the time.

"I was really scared to death about her flying alone all the way from Vienna back to Nashville cause I knew how fragile she was," he said on the "Naomi Judd: A River of Time" memorial special, per People. "Well, she made the flight home without any problem."

Perhaps his only consolation was the thoughtful words of the man who sat beside Naomi during the flight. As mentioned, Strickland received an email from Naomi's seatmate, and the message offered "great, great pleasure and comfort " to him. The singer apparently spoke highly of her husband to a virtual stranger, and the man assured Strickland that he was loved. "Rest assured she loved you and had no qualms about telling me, a stranger on a plane, that was so," the email read, according to Taste of Country.

Larry Strickland served as Naomi Judd's support system

Before her death, Naomi Judd was an advocate for mental health and was never afraid to speak at length about depression. In an essay she wrote for NBC in 2017, she said that it was her husband, Larry Strickland, who had urged her to get help. She recalled that she'd been "inert" for two years and Strickland took the initiative to consult a professional.

"My husband, Larry, knew that I had very severe depression, and he was beyond devastated," she wrote. "Finally, he said, 'I've got to get you some professional help, because I don't know what the heck to do.'" She also shared details about the time Strickland called 911 to get her treatment, and how he never left her side, especially during her hardest moments. "Larry is so constant; he was always there for me," she added. "If I was somewhere in treatment, he would get the closest motel, and be there with me every visiting hour."

In an interview with ABC News in 2016, Strickland also highlighted the importance of supporting people battling depression. "Get ready to walk that path with them, because they're gonna need [it]," he said, advising others in the same situation. "They're gonna need you every minute."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.