Phyllis Ludwig
Phyllis Ludwig
Phyllis Ludwig

Obituary of Phyllis Ludwig

October 27, 1925 – Cullen, Saskatchewan

March 27, 2024 – Calgary, Alberta


The family of Phyllis Ludwig announces with sadness the passing of their matriarch on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at Cambridge Manor in Calgary, AB, at the age of 98 years.


Phyllis was born October 27, 1925, the second youngest of eight children to John and Veronica (Nee Holzer) Winter, in Cullen, SK, and grew up on the family farm near Landau. She was a true product of the prairie hardscrabble; a steadfast religious faith, a committed work ethic; a profound love of family, and an unshakeable optimism. She carried these principles through great challenges over her 98 years.


An early reflection of where her spirit met fate comes from an incident in 1935. Phyllis was playing with her brother Martin when she inhaled a broken piece of a porcelain spoon. It lodged in her lung, became infected and her breathing soon became laboured. It was the heart of the Great Depression and pre-medicare. The doctor who looked at the sickly young redhead gave her father this advice, “She would need surgery, and girls aren't really worth much nowadays. So, it would be best to just let her pass.”


He couldn't have been more wrong. Her father borrowed a car and money for gas, got her to Regina for the surgery, and surgical equipment was shipped from Winnipeg. She was given last rights from a priest, and her sister vowed that if Phyllis survived, she would dedicate her life to religious service. The porcelain was extracted, and Phyllis recovered. Faustine spent 75 years as a grey nun.


Phyllis had many happy memories of prairie life. She remembers watching from an upstairs window as horses and buggies came through the snow for a house party. Furniture was moved and preparations made for a night of community singing and dancing, mostly to German songs from the old country, often throughout the entire night. Her joie de vivre was lost when her father died of a heart attack in 1941 while dancing at a family wedding.


She met the love of her life Joseph Andrew Ludwig shortly after his return from World War II in 1945. He had been a rear gunner in the RAF, shot down on a bombing mission, and spent seven months as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft VII near Bankau in East Germany. He was forced at gunpoint on a torture march in 1945 to Luckenwalde, Germany, ultimately the trauma from which damaged the valves in his heart. To her, he was not only a war hero, but her hero. They were married in 1946 and raised nine children together on the farm in Browning, SK. She always said that farm life made her feel like being the queen of an empire.


She kept her resolute positivity in the face of numerous hardships. She lost her eldest daughter Lanette to a tonsillectomy in 1957, at the age of ten. She was devastated when Joe died on the operating table in 1967, at the age of 44. She then sold the farm and raised her eight children in the city of Estevan. She lost her beloved daughter Theresa to ALS in 2017 after they had moved to Calgary.


Phyllis was a woman of profound faith. She was a volunteer with the CWL and Meals on Wheels, embraced the charismatic movement, and took various missionary trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. She studied the works of Fathers Thomas, Rohr, Merton, and later Pisegna. She took pastoral care training at St. Paul University in Ottawa and could be seen in her later years happily cycling the halls of several Calgary hospitals, bringing communion and pastoral care under the leadership of Don McGillvary and his team to the sick and bedridden. She loved to bring warmth and hope to those in need.


There are many things that evoked her radiant smile: dancing, playing cards, going to the theatre, painted fingernails, fine dining, dressing up for events, tales of pioneer life, German banter, the smell of newborn babies, Irish songs, the mountains, communion, cooking meals, and especially travel. She went to Japan in 1970 as the result of a helpful prescription from Estevan doctor K. Visvanathan, who was worried that the weight of raising her eight children had completely depleted her immune system. She never looked back, reaching all of the continents over the years, sometimes several times.


No doubt her greatest joy came from seeing her grandchildren. She made a point of insisting on “one-on-ones”, so she got to bond with them away from their parents, and each one gave her sheer elation. Finally, she took all 43 of her children and grandchildren at her expense to Rome in 2022, followed by a Mediterranean cruise. She became famous on the ship as the loving “matriarch of the large yellow t-shirt gang”. She brought such energy and pride in her family to the Vatican visit and to each port and activity every day, none of us knew she had already acquired a tumour on her pancreas, something she, of course, kept to herself.


Phyllis is survived by her sons, Anthony (Ruth) and Gilbert (Julie); her daughters, Jolene (Locksley) Campbell, Rhonda (Rod) Munro, Benita (Dennis) Ludwig, Lucille (Greg) Coffey, and Ann (Wayne) Klettke; her twenty grandchildren, and fourteen and a half great-grandchildren. She was also predeceased by her siblings, Emil, Jake, Peter, Faustine, John, Dan, and Martin; and her great-granddaughter Zoe.


Special thanks go to the caregivers at Cambridge Manor, especially Coral, Farrell, and Kazue, each of whom left an imprint on her with their compassion. Jeanette at Riverside Towers reception was an angel. Her granddaughter Sinaed was a godsend and friend throughout her physical decline. Father Sajo Jacob provided a timely sacrament of the anointing of the sick.


A public viewing and prayers will be held at McInnis and Holloway (Heritage, 1708, 16th Avenue N, across from the North Hill Shopping Centre, Calgary, AB) on Friday, April 5, 2024, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Luke’s Catholic Church (1566 Northmount Dr NW, Calgary, AB T2L 0G6) on Thursday, May 30, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. A Celebration of Phyllis’ Life will immediately follow in the Parish Hall.


An inurnment service will take place this summer in the Lampman, SK, cemetery, where she will be buried next to her husband Joseph.


As we receive messages of condolence, we are struck by the repeated reference to the terms “amazing”, “loving”, “kind-hearted”, and “wise”. Phyllis had a unique way of making everyone feel really good about themselves, special and meaningful. She must have drawn from the well of her own suffering and made it a service to others. She faced her final ordeal with bravery and with dignity, never complaining about the pain she endured. She remained sharp, heard whispering in her final breaths: “I love you more”. It turns out girls in 1935 were actually worth a whole lot.


Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Phyllis’ family here.


In living memory of Phyllis Ludwig, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Heritage, 1708 – 16th Avenue NW, Calgary, AB, T2M 0L7, Telephone: 403-299-0100.


Visitation and Prayers

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, April 5, 2024
McInnis & Holloway, Heritage
1708 16 Ave. NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Funeral Mass

1:00 pm
Thursday, May 30, 2024
St. Luke's Catholic Church
1566 Northmount Dr NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
(403) 282-9488
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