Ligonier man touched countless lives as teacher, coach and 'Chief'
Alan Ludwig’s students called him “Chief.” It was a mark of camaraderie and respect for the Ligonier Valley School District teacher who for 38 years touched countless lives.
“I can’t even tell you how many people are pouring out stories, and how much he impacted them,” said his daughter, Deneen Zaetta. Some of his students became lifelong friends, including Benji Burns, who knew Mr. Ludwig more than 30 years.
“Every time you walked in the classroom, you knew,” he said. “He was more than the average teacher.”
Alan E. Ludwig of Ligonier died Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in UPMC Shadyside Hospital. He was 77.
He was born June 12, 1941, in Latrobe, to the late Floyd and Marian Reintgen Ludwig.
It seemed like everyone in Ligonier knew “Chief” Ludwig, said his son, Jason Ludwig.
“It was like Norm coming into ‘Cheers;’ everybody knew his name,” he said.
He was genuinely interested in his students’ lives, and struck the perfect balance between friend and authority.
“He was a guy you wanted to be around,” Burns said. “He always had a smile on his face; he always had a joke to tell.”
He was the same way out of the classroom, as an active member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church and a volunteer with various local organizations.
“I think Ligonier lost a pretty big component to the community,” Jason Ludwig said.
Mr. Ludwig coached several sports teams, including wresting and golf. He coached one wrestler to a state title, one of his proudest accomplishments.
After retirement he took up woodworking, building furniture in his workshop for family and friends and carving wooden animals to give away as gifts.
He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing.
He even faced his long battle with cancer with his trademark good spirits, his daughter said.
“He always did it with a smile,” she said.
He loved hearing from his grandchildren and attending their sports games.
Zaetta remembers one of her dad’s favorite sayings:
“All good things come to an end. Until next time.”
Friends will be received from noon to 2 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at J. Paul McCracken Funeral Chapel, 144 E. Main St., Ligonier. A funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Monday in Holy Family Catholic Church, Latrobe.
Interment will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Soolseem.