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Christopher Prouty

Pawtucket, R.I.

Christopher Prouty's first car was a 1968 Corvette, a Stingray that set him back $4,000. It was past its prime, and Prouty drove it hard, so it cost a small fortune to keep on the road. But he kept nursing it back to health and couldn't bear to let it go. ''He loved all cars, but that one was special,'' said Tom Brunetti, a longtime friend.

Prouty, 34, from Pawtucket, R.I., was the same way with his friends, Brunetti said. Down at Slater Park, where the guys would gather, Prouty knew nearly everyone. To a man, Brunetti said, they knew he would run through a wall for them and ask nothing in return. "He didn't have an enemy in the world, and all his friends were his brothers and sisters," said Brunetti, who passed many summer evenings with Prouty. "He lived on the edge, but he was responsible, too. And loyal to the day's end. He'd break his back to keep his word."

Prouty loved the 1980s. For him, they were carefree times, and listening to the heavy-metal bands of that era took him back, friends said. He would go to see bands like Great White to reminisce and laugh a little at himself, at the way he used to be. "We had such a great time growing up," Brunetti said. "We were kids and had nothing to worry about. Going to the shows reminded us of that." Prouty took his time settling down, his friends said, but had recently hit his stride personally and professionally. He had bought a house with a garage large enough for his car-restoration business, and he was making a good living doing what he loved.