Thomas Mehler Ludwig, 1942-2018
Originally appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC, July 28, 2018
Thomas “Tom” Mehler Ludwig, consummate salesman and people-person, and loving husband, father, and grandfather, passed away July 19, 2018 in Charlotte after a short battle with cancer. He was 75.
Handsome, with sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes, Tom had a salesman’s sensibility and made fast friends with just about everyone he met. Even at the end of his life, while he was sick in the hospital, nurses from other floors came to visit “my guy.” Throughout his life, Tom loved his job and his customers, visiting Myrtle Beach, gardening, giving gifts (but not necessarily receiving them), grilling pork loin and London broil, Scotch and water, and cheap cigars — unless you bought him the good ones.
And he was always on time. Being late drove him crazy.
Tom was born in Philadelphia on August 22, 1942, and when he was a few months old, his family moved to Louisville, Kentucky. As a child, he spent much of his time playing in the woods and would also muck out stalls at a local horse riding academy in exchange for rides. His family moved to Connecticut when he was in junior high.
He served three years in the Marine Corps and then received his bachelor’s degree in business from New Haven University in New Haven, Connecticut.
It was in New Haven that he met Marianne Parker at a party on the beach before school started. The two began dating in October and were engaged six months later. “He was funny and we laughed a lot,” recalls Marianne. “And he fit in well with my family, becoming the son my father never had.” They married August 26, 1967.
“He brought me coffee every single morning he was home,” she says.
Once during a snowstorm before they were married, Marianne was snowed in at her apartment with her roommate in New Haven. Tom shoveled his way across town and brought steaks, potatoes, and a bottle of wine. “He was just making sure we were okay, but that was one the best meals I ever had.”
Tom was owner and president of Ludwig, Smith and Walker, a manufacturer’s rep firm in the plumbing industry, for nearly forty years, and he was almost always the first person in and the last person out. “He loved every minute of it,” said his son, Stephen. “He knew everything about his customers. He retired at seventy-one, but if it wasn’t for all the driving he had to do, he wouldn’t have retired.”
Never the type to put on airs, Tom put 180,000 miles on a Toyota minivan and kept driving it even though he could have afforded a better, newer car.
Marianne will miss his companionship and the easy way they had of planning their days together after fifty years of marriage. They used to just drive around and would sometimes go to a sixty-and-older exercise class together.
“I’m going to miss talking to him every day,” said Stephen, who is taking over his father’s business. “I would talk to him about work. He would advise me, congratulate me. I could vent to him. Or we would go just wandering around Lowe’s together.”
Tom’s daughter, Leigh, remembers him as a great dad and grandfather, silly, and making up nicknames for everyone, and inventing voices for all of the characters in the Grimm’s fairy tales he would read the kids before bed.
Leigh was determined to be married in his hospital room, where the family shared a precious yet bittersweet ceremony, and are grateful Tom was able to be present.
Shortly before his death Tom was grilling on the deck at his second home on Lake Norman, and he turned to Marianne and said, “I just love this place.”
Tom is survived by his wife, Marianne Ludwig; his son, Stephen (Megan) Ludwig; his daughter, Leigh (Jason) Staton and grand-daughter, Natalie Clinard; his sister, Lynne Glennon; his brother, Stephen J. (Cecilia) Ludwig, and his 6-year-old rescue cat, Emmy.
Tom’s family would like to thank everyone at Atrium Health Main, especially the 10th floor MICU and the entire staff of doctors and nurses of tower three oncology.
Because Tom was not fond of funerals or wearing suits, there will be an informal party to celebrate his life August 19 from 3-5 p.m. at The Depot, 1610 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28206. Donations may be made in his name to the American Cancer Society or Levine & Dickson Hospice House in Huntersville (hpccr.org).
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