If you are about to pass by a garage sale, stop, consider: Gene Ralph Ludwig (you probably knew him as Willie) who entered eternal life on Friday October 18, 2013. His spirit is carried on by his two children, six grandchildren, wife, and family and friends from every walk of life. He spent his final weeks reminiscing with family and friends, before pancreatic cancer ended his life of adventure. We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Willie during his 82 years, among them were to always stop at every good garage sale or small town airport.
Grandpa Willie was born December 27, 1930 in Leavenworth, Kansas the youngest of three sons. Adventure started early in life: camping, hunting, boat riding and building gadgets. His passion grew to painting and repairing boats, planes, and automobiles. Willie was an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, a bargain shopper, collector of treasures, and a flannel-jeans-suspenders kind of guy. Many young people have benefited from Willie's generous assistance and instruction.
He excelled at trouble shooting, thinking outside the box, and creative solutions. He survived two years in the Army, a heart attack, three plane crashes and previous bouts of cancer. He loved the shows Glee and Castle, the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team, and a wide variety of music. Some of his favorite music could be found on the many toys he saved from garage sales: one in particular was the guitar- playing skeleton which perfectly exemplified his sense of humor. His musically talented children and grandchildren all inherited his love of music.
Gene believed above all else in hard work and getting your hands dirty. Although he was a guest lecturer at St. Mary's College in the physics department, he was most proud of his many airplanes which he bought, painted and re-sold. His "real job" was electrician for Missouri Valley Shipyards, then, until retirement, at General Motors. Gene maintained a grass strip airport in Leavenworth for nearly 30 years. He closed the airport and stopped flying at the age of 80.
He was a quiet man, but was able to win the heart of Betty Lou Roy, sweeping her off her feet, marrying her on April 18, 1958 only a few months after their first date. He believed in taking his family on adventures, on the boat on the river, camping in the Ozarks, or in his favorite Bellanca airplane.
There was never a problem too big for Gene. He taught us that whatever it is, you can learn to do it yourself. He taught us that if your hat is flying off when you ride your motor-scooter, then clip the edges and you will be more aerodynamic. The family will share the more interesting not- for- publication stories at the funeral service on Tuesday.
Gene is survived by his wife Betty Lou Roy Ludwig, his children Cindi McMurray (Richard), Jim Ludwig, grandchildren Emily Calabro, Corinne Calabro (Annie ), Angelina Calabro, Zach Ludwig, Mariah Ludwig, and Matthew Ludwig. He was preceded in death by his brothers Geary and Dale Ludwig. The family would like to send their many thanks to St. Luke's Hospice for helping in the final months, days, hours, and breaths of this man's wonderful life.
Page 2 of 2 - In lieu of flowers the family request memorials be made to St. Luke's Hospice, American Cancer Society or The American Heart Association.
Family will receive friends Monday, October 21, 2013, 6-8 p.m. at the Davis Funeral Chapel. A funeral service will held Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 10 a.m. also the Davis Funeral Chapel. Burial will follow at Mount Muncie Cemetery.