One of my favorite photos of Artie.
Arthur Llewellyn VanBenSchoten V
  • 20 years old
  • Date of birth: May 18, 1991
  • Place of birth:
    San Diego, California, United States
  • Date of passing: Aug 21, 2011
  • Place of passing:
    San Diego, California, United States
You're an angel now, Artie, 20 years old forever and ever. Party like a rock star up there.

I've created this website to keep the memory alive of my nephew, Arthur Llewellyn VanBenSchoten V.   Since he was cremated, we have no lasting memorial for him and that breaks my heart into a million pieces.  

Artie VanB, as he was called amongst his extensive circle of friends, was a major force in many people's lives - the number of memorial tattoos bearing his name testifies to this fact,  It's been extremely difficult adjusting to a life without Artie in it.  Artie left behind his love, Shelby, and the daughter he adored, Kylie Rae, who was only 7 months old when he died.  Thankfully, Artie did leave behind his unique and hysterically funny personality and it is permanently housed within the body of Kylie.  She is extraordinary in all ways but hearts break for her daily because of what she will forever have to live without.  Kylie's saving grace is that Shelby is an exceptional mother on every level and we are so thankful for that.

Arthur Llewellyn VanBenSchoten V was born on May 18, 1991 and left us on August 21, 2011 at the age of 20.  The day he died has special significance for another reason:  Artie and his younger brother, Austin, were extremely close, sharing a deep, mutual love and respect for each other.  In a tragic coincidence, Artie died on Austin's 18th birthday.  (I've posted a photo of Austin's memorial tattoo for his brother - his is the backpiece.)

We have all been devastated by Artie's death but none more than his mother, Megan.  There wasn't anything her two boys did that Megan wasn't proud of and she was incapable of issuing discipline or harsh words - she simply adored them too much.  To take one of her cherished sons was undoubtedly one of the universe's most brutal and heartless moments.  It was also tragically unjust that it happened to someone who has struggled so hard for so long.  Apparently,  "random" is in charge here.

I was going to refrain from adding certain "details" to this site but I've changed my mind, mostly because Artie's death has made me obsessively inquisitive about how other's have died.  And if I have a need to know these things, I'm sure other people do, as well. 

Artie died of a heroin/xanax overdose.  That is a difficult thing to acknowledge and accept, that we let him slip away from us like that, because an overdose doesn’t have to be lethal.  Immediate death from heroin overdose really only happens in the movies.  There is 5 minute window of life-saving opportunity, and if someone had been aware of the signs, Artie might still be here.  After 5 minutes, however, irreversible brain damage occurs - that in itself was a painful reality.  And just so you know, overdose from straight heroin is rare - most overdoses occur because the person took another drug that either interacted adversely with the heroin or  intensified it's effect.  Xanax is a common "supplement" to take with heroin; I educated myself on this subject because I wanted to know what he went through during the overdose – I had to know he didn’t suffer.  That would have been unbearable.

For those of you who now pass judgment because of the way he died, just know that Artie never stood a chance.  Addiction is genetic and hereditary – both of my parents (Artie’s maternal grandparents) were alcoholics/prescription pill addicts (specifically, valium) who passed on the addiction gene to all 3 of us girls and we, in turn, passed it on to all of our's.  Artie’s father’s side of the family has identical addiction issues on both sides so I will never blame Artie for what happened.  His loss, of course, was the greatest one of all.

If you knew Artie and want to post a note to him here, please feel free to do so.  If you didn't know Artie but like to browse this site, feel free to leave a comment also.  I admit that I look at the other sites on here because, as I mentioned above, I want to know how people died.  Anyway, this is where I will be posting my frequent notes to him.  I know of no other place to do this and it's something I have to do.  I am Megan's sister, Artie and Austin's aunt, and an equally devastated family member.  Thanks for stopping by.

I love you, Artie.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Megan Vanbenschoten on 4th October 2016

"Artie, its mom. I can barely write because of the tears. Its been over 5 years and like your aunt Michele said its the time that keeps passing that is so sad. I still to this day have moments where I can't believe you died. I feel it in my bones Artie that this was so wrong, you weren't suppose to die. Its so hard to explain but it felt like a set up. I can't shake the feeling. I don't understand it. I just wish I could see you one time and if you told me that you wouldn't trade coming back to this world for where you are now I could actually gone on in life, not happily but at least maybe I could stop hating God , hating my life, because Artie when I mourn your death honey I mourn for my sister Michele, your father, brother, grandmother, daughter and countless others who are forever saddened and affected by your passing. To see your name on a memorial will always steal my breath from me. I am not well Artie. My memory is slipping something terrible. Like early onset of Alzheimer's. It truly scares me. My faith has taken a big hit as well. I don't know what to believe anymore. God isn't to me what He once was. I don't trust Him at all and never will. I dread what he has planned for me in the future and it destroys my days and makes life hopeless. I hate this world and this life with you not  in it. But I will always love you son far more than my own life. If its true and you really are in heaven and when I do die and somehow if I make there myself, your face better be the first one I lay eyes on. It has to be you son please. I'm living my life down here with a constant feeling of incompleteness, like missing one of my limbs or something and I can't stand it. Can't stand the agony anymore. OK Arthur my first born son I will go for now, I don't want to but I'm tired and need to go to bed. Its late but I couldn't sleep because you've been on my mind so heavy lately, especially when I'm with my grandson Hunter who will never have the blessing of knowing his uncle Artie. He is my saving grace and with out him I probably wouldn't still be in this .miserable world. I love you then, now, and always my precious baby boy, til we meet up mom"

This tribute was added by annie klecha on 19th September 2015

"Artie its Nana I love and miss you more than you can imagine. Tom and I take good care of Kylie. She is so much like you. When we see a butter fly she says"There's daddy Aarthur" As long as I live Artie I will keep your memory alive to her. I show her pictures and talk of you all the time. My life is not the same any more Artie> you were my "honey bunny" I love you forever,Nana"

This tribute was added by Michele McWilliams on 21st August 2014

"Three years ago today, almost to the minute, we got the news that would forever change the landscape of our lives.  Being with your mom when she got the call from Shelby is still the single, most horrific moment in my lifetime.  Hearing her scream, "Artie's dead!!!" is forever branded in my psyche.  When I relive that exact moment of hearing it for the first time, the tears flow immediately and uncontrollably.  How in the hell do people survive this shit?  I don't get it.  You mom blows me away, Artie, because I would have taken the path of less pain had it been me.

You are so missed by so many people.  My heart feels too fuckin' heavy all the time behind your death and I'm not sure how much longer I can carry it around, Artie.  Your father has gone off the deep end because of his guilt and I'm scared for your mother's life.  Your brother has moved 2,000 miles away.  Remember talking with your mom about what would happen if someone in your small family died?  You said the family would be "destroyed".  How right you were.  When something valuable breaks, you can try to glue it together....unless a piece is missing.  Then there's nothing you can do to make it stay in one piece.  I was thinking today that even winning the lottery would mean absolutely nothing to me because you're not here to share in it.  I don't even play anymore - there's no point.

I saw where another life was lost - Gage Dyke.  Born the same year as you and died 3 years, minus 1 day, after you.  So many have passed since you died, Artie.  When will it end?  I love you so much and, as always, the offer still stands - trade my life for yours in a hot second.  Still waiting for someone to take me up on it.  Please give me a sign - any sign - that you are in existence somewhere.  Please, Artie.

Love you,
Aunt Michele"

This tribute was added by Michele McWilliams on 19th May 2014

"Happy Birthday to you, Artie.  This is the 3rd year you won't get to hear those words spoken to you.  A thought I posted to Facebook a couple of months ago came to me out of the blue - it's been almost 3 years since anyone laid eyes on you, heard your voice or got a hug from you.  Three years since you got to take a shower, eat dinner or hug your daughter.  Fuckin' tragedy.  It's just a fuckin' tragedy, Arthur.

I apologize for not writing for quite a while - I've been working on the sterling silver memorial necklaces for your mom and I.  A photo of my finished work will be posted on here for your memory to see.  I almost don't want to stop working on them because it feels like a link to you, but your mom's is done and I need to let go.  

I love you, Artie, and think about you all day long, every day.  Your death will never be anything but the worst thing that I've ever experienced, bar none.  I'm grateful for one thing only - that you didn't go out in an act of violence.  "Random" must have had a moment of "mercy".

Love you, Arthur Llewellyn VanBenSchoten V - always.

Aunt Michele"

This tribute was added by Austin Parks on 18th May 2014

"I never knew this man, this Arthur, or Artie as his close friends knew him, but I have friends that are affected by his passing. My name is Austin, I'm 22, and also like to mix drugs and alcohol, so I can't help but feel a little affected as well by this. Random is the perfect word to describe Arthur's Death, for it could have been anyone who OD'd that night. But as chaotic and as random as this universe is, it was the fate of Arthur to be taken, and for no apparent reason. But what isn't random is the fact that he STILL has a group of friends who will remember him every single year and take if even a second to mourn his existence. And that is not something too many people have.
I didn't know him but I still love him, and I'm sorry for anyone who personally knew Arthur. He seemed like a great person to know."

This tribute was added by Michele McWilliams on 3rd February 2014

"Hi, Artie.  Feeling the loss of you really bad right now.  Don't get me wrong - it's always bad.  But when it's like this, I'm literally on the verge of tears at all times and whenever I'm alone for even a moment, they fall freely and won't stop.  I'm so scared of time that passes and separates you from your family even more.  Oh, my god, Artie, I can't believe you are just gone.  Gone for good and nothing, or no one, can ever change that for us.  That's the hardest thing to wrap my head around - that nothing I say, do or accomplish will ever make a difference or change anything at all.  I've always found that, somehow, some way, things can be changed.  But not this.  There is just no way out of this nightmare.  I will do just about anything to avoid mental suffering but I can't run away from this one.

I am so sorry, Artie.  I know, if you still exist in this universe, you hear me say this to you just about every day but I can't help it.  I am so incredibly sorry for what happened to you.  It doesn't matter that it wasn't my fault directly - I will be sorry until the day I die, too.  Which, really, I hope is soon.  But you probably know that already, too.

I love you, Arthur Llewellyn VanBenSchoten V.  I pray your consciousness didn't cease at the moment of your death because that would mean you don't have a clue what has happened - and things are bad enough as it is without that additional devastating thought.  Being an atheist is hell when it comes to the death of a loved one, Artie.  Trust me when I tell you that.  Love you, Artie.  Your birthday is coming up in a few short months - I dread it with all that I am.  Miss your life, nephew.

Love, Michele"

This tribute was added by Michele McWilliams on 16th December 2013

"You know, Artie, my heart stops every time I see your name on this website.  I remember the first time I scrolled thru the "A's" - when your name appeared, I wanted to throw up.  Why is it so incredibly difficult to see your name with the words "Rest in Peace"?  It sickens me so much to see, to hear it, to read it, to know it.  This should not have happened, Artie.  You were not supposed to go first.  How could it have been "your time", Artie?  I've heard that you knew you were going to die and you said your goodbyes in your own way.  How did you know?  Because I've felt like that for a few months but I just thought I was tripping or something.  Still, I'm taking steps to make sure I don't leave a bunch of unfinished business for others to have to deal with - shit like that.  I can't help but wonder if that's how you felt.  So many things I want to ask you, Artie.......  Love you.

Aunt Michele"

This tribute was added by Michele McWilliams on 15th December 2013

"Artie, I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of depression behind your death.  Time continues to pass quickly - I can barely see this thru my tears - but the pain your death has caused gets worse.  I think about you each and every day but there are times when my guard is down and I get hit by surprise with the shocking thought, "Oh my fuckin' god, Artie's dead."  I will sit there and just trip so hard on it.  How could you go before us?  That wasn't supposed to happen, for fuck's sake.

This morning, I had the first-time experience of seeing your whole life flash by in a second and I couldn't believe the overwhelming sadness I felt - and am feeling again now - and I'm not sure why.  Your life seems so tragic to me now because, unfortunately, I know how the story ends.  Then I see people moving on and no matter that I knew it was inevitable, it does not temper the pain one little bit.  How can these people go on with their lives when so often I can barely breathe in mine?  

Today is your mother's birthday and when I messaged her on Facebook to give birthday wishes, I couldn't believe how sad I felt about it.  That is bizarre to me but I know this day is filled with sadness for her.....but then again, every day of her life is tragically sad now.  Oh, Artie, do you even know what you did?  Somehow, I don't think so.  But that's why I believe religion was first created - because we just can't handle this shit of losing our loved ones.  Plain and simple.  Sorry to dump on you like this, babe, but I don't think you'll ever see read this.  That won't stop me from pretending, though - fake it 'til I make it, I guess.  I love you, Artie.  I will take a pic of my memorial necklace that I wear for you - even though it's not done yet.  I have the block letters but the chain I had put aside for it isn't long enough to work with the other one.  

Please come back, Artie.  No one was done with you yet and the grief is unrelenting - you can take it all away and make everyone and everything better if you would just come back to us.  Oh, my god, Artie, what have you done?  Would you have ever believed that one reckless decision could have resulted in the death and destruction of so much?  Just the tears shed for you since you've been gone must be a small ocean but what about the tears to come?  Kylie will cry for you throughout her life - every time she's hurt or bullied or taken advantage of, she'll wish she had you there for support.  Her mother is wonderful but all little girls need their daddy.  I lost mine at 13 so I know exactly how this will affect the rest of her life and that makes me so endlessly sad for her.

I must end this now, Artie - I didn't want to go all here but sometimes I just can't control these things.  Love you so very much, my nephew, and would give anything in this world to have you back.  I will never, ever stop crying for you, Artie.  Love your guts -

Aunt Michele"

This tribute was added by frank shepard on 14th November 2013

"I've known Artie since I was 9. We lived on Orlando st. In El Cajon. I remember going to the beach with him and Austin and there aunt. We had moved and a few years later I ran into him at motel 6. It was like things had never changed. We hit it off from where we left. Your forever in our hearts brother! Keep a close watch on us from above. We love you and miss you Artie! Rest in paradise!"

This tribute was added by Michele Najera on 8th September 2013

"My heart to you and your family. Artie is one who got to heaven before us. God bless you. And for Art & Megan alway remember as hard as it may be alway look above for it is His job to look down. Be safe.  I love you"

This tribute was added by Lindsay Christopher on 24th August 2013

"Arthur, I think about you everyday. I have you up on my mantle where I can see you and talk to you whenever I want but it's not enough. I miss your smile and your laugh. I miss your bear hugs and us talking. I hate that you are not here to see how absolutely amazing your daughter is. I miss you. I get to talk about you daily because people always comment on my tattoo for you.. I love you to the mo"

This tribute was added by Kyle Bennett on 21st August 2013

"I miss you man. I can't believe its already been 2 years since you been gone. Kory misses you like crazy and so does everyone else. It was an honor to be your friend and to be around you. You made everyone so happy and made everyone laugh. I love you man, and cant wait to see you again. Keep watching over us and protecting us. R.I.P. Arthur VanBenSchoten  Always missed, never forgotten."

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This memorial is administered by:

Michele McWilliams


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