Obituary of Betty Lorriane Ludwig
Obituary Betty Lorraine (Wilhour) Ludwig September 3, 1929 - December 27, 2023 On December 27, 2023, Betty Lorraine (Wilhour) Ludwig (94), passed away peacefully in Longmont, Colorado, with family by her side. As sung in the hymn, “I’ll Fly Away,” written in the year of Betty’s birth, Betty did “fly away to a land where joy shall never end.” Betty was the wife of Burton Davenport Ludwig, with whom she spent over 51 years of devoted marriage.
Betty was born in Marysville, PA, the fourth of six children to Gilbert and Marie Louise (Deibler) Wilhour. After the passing of her mother Marie, Betty then only six years old was entrusted to her maternal great aunt Daisy. Yet following Daisy’s death months later, Betty at the age of seven was taken in by her maternal grandfather Hurlington S. Deibler, who had lost his wife Lillian earlier that same year. Later when Betty was nine, Hurlington would marry the widow Mary (Lenig) Ocker and together they would rear Betty. Betty’s fondest childhood memory was of a Rollfast bicycle that she received on her birthday. This special gift brought hope that happier days lay ahead. Betty would keep and treasure this bicycle all of her life.
Betty graduated with the class of 1947 from Sunbury High School, Sunbury, PA. During high school, Betty was one of seven girls who became close friends; they called themselves “The Lucky Seven.” Later another was added and the Lucky Seven plus one would remain friends and correspond throughout their lives. In Betty’s senior yearbook, she stated that her future ambition was to be an “air hostess.” Yet, Betty simply wanted to fly and this seemed a means to that end. Still, Betty would find another way of flying.
In September of 1950, Betty graduated from Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, New York City, NY to become a licensed registered nurse. Along with her best friend from nursing school, in February 1951, Betty joined the U.S. Navy Nurses Corps (USNNC) and on May 17 commenced active duty. The following year while at the Naval Hospital - Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, NC, Betty met on a blind date her future husband Burton, a handsome U.S. Marine. In January 1953, Betty received a promotion from ensign to Lieutenant Jr. Grade. By March, she obtained her student pilot certificate and flew local flights from Jacksonville, piloting a single-engine Aeronca Champion or “Champ,” as it was called. Thereafter, Betty enrolled in Air University, US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL. Upon the completion of her flight training in May 1954, Betty received orders to Hickam Field, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Betty and Burton married a month later, on June 4, 1954, in Sunbury, PA. Two days later, on June 6, Burton graduated with a BA from Findlay College, and the newlyweds honeymooned on Betty’s two-week leave between Gunter AFB and her appointment in Hawaii. As a flight nurse with the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), Betty cared for wounded troops, some critically ill, while on Trans-Pacific flights from Tokyo, The Philippines, Guam, and Kwajalein Island, to Travis Air Force Base, California. On Nov 24, 1954, Betty was honorably discharged from the Navy.
Betty and Burt, having both retired from military service, moved to Ada, Ohio where they attended Ohio Northern University. Betty worked toward a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, while Burton obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 1956. A year earlier the couple had started a family, and in 1958 they made their home in Gibsonburg, Ohio where Burton established himself as a respected attorney at law. Betty stayed at home with their two daughters, caring and providing for them. In 1966, when their daughters were ages ten and seven, Betty went to work as a surgical nurse at Fremont Memorial Hospital in Fremont, Ohio. Betty would continue working as a surgical nurse for over twelve years and from her place of work would make more life-long friends.
Throughout the 1960’s Betty and Burt enjoyed boating with their daughters on Lake Erie. In the late ‘60’s they both took flying lessons at Fremont Airport. In 1973, Betty earned her private pilot’s license, as had Burton in 1968. They enjoyed flying, taking family trips in their Cessna 210 around Ohio, and to Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Nevada, Colorado, and elsewhere.
In 1978, after residing in Gibsonburg for 20 years, Betty and Burt retired to Arkansas. Later in 1986 they moved to Florida and in 1988 finally settled in Columbia, Missouri. As she had in Ohio and Arkansas, Betty again took up flower and vegetable gardening; she was recognized as a Master Gardener by the state of Missouri. Her favorite among all that she cultivated was the red rose. Betty cared for Burton in their home, throughout his 10- year struggle with emphysema until his passing, and she resided in their Missouri home until the age of 91. In May 2021, Betty moved to Colorado and later lived with her younger daughter and son-in-law for two years until her passing in December 2023.
Betty was forthright, industrious, and creative. She will be remembered as a U.S. Navy flight nurse during the Korean Conflict, as well as a hospital surgical nurse, private pilot, skilled swimmer, elegant ballroom dancer, excellent seamstress and crocheter, master gardener, lifelong friend, and beloved mother. Her resilient and valiant spirit shall not be forgotten. Reflecting Betty’s heart desire and achievement, one of her favorite sayings was, “I’d rather be flying!”
Betty was preceded in her final flight heavenward by her husband Burton (1922-2005). She is survived by her daughters, Lucinda/Cindy Ludwig of Missouri and Loretta/Lori Niemeyer (Alan) of Colorado, her grandson Mark Niemeyer (Katie), her great grandson, her sister Gladys Albin, as well as her cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A memorial service with full military honors and interment will be held at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO at 1:00 p.m. on April 4, 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Betty Ludwig to Dementia Together at www.DementiaTogether.orgTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Betty Ludwig, please visit Tribute Store