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Mary J. Ludeman

IRVINGTON—Mary Joanne Ludeman, a dedicated daughter, devoted wife, loving mom, grandmother to eight grandchildren, and a great-grandmother to seven great-grandchildren passed away on July 20 surrounded by loved ones.

Born in Circleville, Ohio, on June 3, 1932, Joanne was the only daughter of James and Okel Dancy. Her father was a very talented home builder in the region. It was the success of his business that led them to Columbus, Ohio, where Joanne spent her childhood playing the clarinet, piano and rescuing any stray dog in sight—much to her parents’ dismay. Joanne’s fondness for Ohio was evident as she completed middle and high school in Columbus, graduating from Bexley High, and going on to attend Ohio State University.

This love of her home was only to be eclipsed by one other place she had always dreamed of going—Hollywood. It was during a trip her senior year that Joanne visited Los Angeles and Beverly Hills with her mother and instantly became enamored with the stars. Anyone that met Joanne will tell you she was the master of celebrity trivia—dazzling friends and family with facts about Hollywood’s A-listers.

While at Ohio State University, Joanne was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and served on the homecoming court. She became a diehard Buckeye football fan who adored Woody Hayes and enjoyed watching her team play in the Rose Bowl.

She left Ohio State early to pursue her passion for fashion at the Barbizon School of Fashion Design in New York City. It was here in New York that Joanne met the love of her life and husband of 61 years, Douglas H. Ludeman. Doug, then a senior at Yale University, was introduced to Joanne through a blind date arranged by his oldest sister and Joanne’s mother, who were next door neighbors in Columbus. Three months later, on June 15, 1952, they were married.

Soon after, Douglas enlisted in the U. S. Army. While he was serving in the Korean War, Joanne lived with his parents in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and worked at Salomon Brothers in New York City. She rode the train to work every day with her father in law, a senior partner at the firm—one day he would buy the paper, the next day she would. After Doug returned from the Korean War, he and Joanne moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they opened a successful candy store called Bonne Barniere. The shop was so profitable they were quickly sought after and sold the company a year after opening. Always one to know the value of a dollar, it came as no surprise when in 1956 Joanne became the longest running contestant on the original game show “The Price is Right” hosted by Bill Cullen.

Doug and Joanne’s time in Florida was a wonderful chapter of their lives raising their two boys, Doug Jr. and Danny, as well as becoming very active members of their church. While attending a Bible study group led by Dr. James Kennedy, they both became born- again Christians and developed a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which defined the rest of their lives. They were founding members of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, and were active in evangelism in the region, a core mission of Coral Ridge. They shared the plan of salvation with those they met, something Joanne was passionate about ensuring everyone understood.

In 1964, Doug and Joanne moved from Florida to Richmond, where Douglas rose to become president and chief operating officer of United Virginia Bancshares/Crestar. Joanne made her own investment in the Richmond community as an active board member for the Virginia Home for Boys. She also served as an advisory board member for St. Jude Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., an organization they both came to love. Together they established themselves as members of First Baptist Church.

After Doug retired, they resided in southern Florida, but built their dream home, “Providence Point “nestled in Irvington, along the Chesapeake Bay. It was an idyllic space, where wonderful family memories were made. Doug and Joanne’s river home was the genesis, inspiring the next generation of Ludemans to call Carter’s Creek home.

Though home was where they loved to be the most, Joanne and Doug also shared a mutual love for travel. In their 27 years together after his retirement, they set out to see the world, often on long cruises, visiting more than 77 countries. Their treks around the world gave them a deep appreciation for diverse cultures. A testament to their dedication to one another, throughout these 27 years they were never apart, not even for one day.

An immensely talented woman, Joanne could have been wildly successful in any profession she pursued, but what she wanted was to be a housewife and a mother—that’s all she ever wanted. Her primary mission was to safely raise her two sons with integrity and courage, and for them to love the Lord. Graceful and wise, but also full of grit and determination, she’d fight to protect her family, like a lioness protecting her cubs.

Sharp and fiercely loyal, Joanne had high standards and could be tough on people, especially family. She expected candor, or “calling a spade a spade.” She despised hypocrisy, always valuing action over word and demanded respect and honor because that’s the way she was raised—and because she spent her entire life giving it away to others.

Her faith, the hallmark of her life, never wavered for a moment. Countless nurses, physical therapists, chemo and radiation technicians, doctors, aides and drivers heard the plan of salvation from Joanne during her 24-month battle with lung cancer later in life. She was never afraid to die, for she knew exactly where she was going and had tremendous joy, peace and confidence in her heart knowing she was a child of God.

Joanne was full of personality; she was beautiful, witty, smart, passionate and full of flair. She lived and died with dignity. In every sense, she was a true lady. She accomplished her mission in life to be an excellent wife and mother, and passed peacefully, and is now watching the cross streets in heaven with her beloved Doug.

Her wisdom, humor, grace, love and dedication—her legacy—lives on through her family, her two sons, Douglas H. Ludeman (Courtney) and Daniel J. Ludeman (Susan); her eight grandchildren, Katy Shonka (David), Danny Ludeman Jr. (Erika), Harry Ludeman (Kerry), Allison Ludeman, Sammy Ludeman (Britney), David Ludeman, Sally Wallis (Tyler) and Caroline Ludeman; and her seven great-grandchildren.

A family service was held at Currie Funeral Home in Kilmarnock on July 23, 2017.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105; or National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, 1731 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

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