Music 32

Theodore M. Ludwig

September 28, 1936 ~ August 11, 2020 (age 83)

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Theodore (Ted) M. Ludwig died peacefully at home of esophageal cancer at the age of 83 on August 11, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. Ted’s good humor, helping hands, gentle spirit, deep experience, intelligence, and devotion to his family will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Ted was preceded in death by his wife Kathy (Plackemeier), and by his brothers Paul, Phil, Bob, and John. He is survived by his four sons Kevin, James (Laurie), Gregory, and Keith, granddaughters Amanda and Amalie, brothers Dick, Dave, and Tom, and sisters Eunice Fink, Thekla Sebaugh, Betsy Wiening and Charlotte LePere.

Ted was born on September 28, 1936 to Paul and Thekla (Friedrich) Ludwig in Oxford, Nebraska, the seventh of 12 children. His father, a life-long Lutheran minister, presided at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Oxford at that time. Ted graduated from Concordia High School in Austin, Texas, and earned a B.A. from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. He married his high school sweetheart Kathleen (Kathy) on June 26th, 1960. Their sons Kevin and James were born while Ted completed an M.Div., S.T.M., and a Th.D. in Hebrew Scriptures at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

A call to serve as a Lutheran missionary took him to Tokyo, Japan from 1963-1967, where his sons Greg and Keith were born. His exposure to Shinto and Buddhism inspired him to resume his studies at the University of Chicago upon his return to the States, earning an M.A. in History of Religions and culminating in a Ph.D. in East Asian Religions. He subsequently became a Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University in northwestern Indiana, specializing in Old Testament Studies and World Religions. He taught there from 1968 until his retirement in 2003, and became the first occupant of the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics in 1998. He authored or co-authored many articles and books during his years at Valparaiso University, among them the textbook “The Sacred Paths - Understanding the Religions of the World,” currently in its 4th edition.

Always an adventurous soul, he brought his family to Reutlingen in southern Germany where he directed a study program for college students from Valparaiso University and other associated colleges from 1976-78. He also assisted his colleague Professor Walt Rast multiple times on archeological digs in Jordan.

Ted and Kathy loved the outdoors, and traveled and camped with their kids and grandkids extensively throughout the United States and Europe, as well as making trips to Japan and India. Ted was a talented athlete, competing in baseball, football, and basketball during his school days, and played racquetball and tennis well into his 70’s. He loved music, played guitar and piano, and performed for many years in a recorder ensemble. He and Kathy sang in the Valparaiso University Choral Society, and Ted continued to sing until shortly before his death in his local church choir.

Ted and Kathy helped found the Valparaiso Builders Association (VBA) in 1968, and continued to be involved with it the rest of their lives. VBA was instrumental in creating affordable housing for the first Black families to move to then all-white Valpo from housing projects in Chicago. Known since 1986 as Project Neighbors, the organization has expanded into affordable daycare, healthcare, education, human relations, and economic development for all those in need.

Private family services will be held.  A livestream of the service can be viewed at 9 am on Sunday, August 16, at: 

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in his name can be made to Project Neighbors (


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