Quinn Smith, a junior at IU, arrived at Showalter Fountain on Thursday afternoon to tell his friend one more time how much he loved him.
“There weren’t many times when Nate was living with us that I got to tell him I love him,” Smith said to a crowd that had gathered. “But I’ll tell him one more time today.”
At 7 p.m. on Thursday, more than 200 people congregated to remember the life of Nate Stratton, who was killed in the early morning of Sept. 18 by an alleged drunk driver. Amongst the crowd, people held candles and one another’s hands as friends and family shared their stories of Stratton.
His friends said Stratton always offered friendship to those around him, was always eager to try something new and he adored lite lemonade.
Smith and Aidan Gonzalez, both Stratton’s roommates, remembered visiting one another in their dorm rooms and talking about changing their majors and watching bad reality TV. They both said Stratton was the kind of person that lifted others up just by being around him.
“I only knew Nate for two years,” Smith said. “But I would’ve wished for a lifetime more.”
Gonzalez, who has known Stratton since they were in high school together in Minnesota, said there were very few times when they weren’t together.
“I can’t think of a single high school dance or event that I went to where he wasn’t there,” Gonzalez said.
Smith befriended them both at the very start of college.
“They were a package deal,” Smith chuckled. “Attached at the hip.”
Stratton’s friends remember how he would do anything they needed when it counted. They never had to ask. Gonzalez remembered a time recently when he had gotten sick with the flu late at night.
“He dropped everything to get me Liquid IV and Gatorade,” Gonzalez said. “It was 2 in the morning, and he tracked down a 24-hour convenience store and went on this giant hunt just to bring me Gatorade.”
His friends remember Stratton making meals for them, just to ensure they had a bite to eat. He would listen to people’s life plans and make a point to check in on them later. Gonzalez said Stratton was gone too soon, at just 20-years-old.
“There’s going to be a hole in my heart for the rest of my life,” Gonzalez said.
Stratton’s friends and family asked those who knew him to live their lives in a way that would have made him proud — with determination and kindness.
“The best way all of us can continue to live our lives and honor him is to do the things he would have wanted us to do — do the things that we loved to do with him,” Gonzalez said.