Louis Goodrich Ludington

1920 - 1976

Louis Ludington, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, served for over ten years in Bangkok, Thailand, and performed the first open-heart surgery at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in 1973.  He was also a pianist and accomplished violinist who often played as a soloist and in violin duets with his brother, Cliff (Donald Clifford, Jr.)

Louis was born in Rangoon, Burma, on January 25, 1920, the older of two sons of Donald Clifford, Sr. and Mildred Goodrich Ludington, missionaries in Burma for nine years. Both sons would also later serve in the mission field.

His parents returned to the U.S. in 1923 and lived in Florida for six years before moving to Collegedale, Tennessee, where his father would teach for the rest of his career at Southern Junior College, now Southern Adventist College. Both Louis and Cliff were popular on campus and active in music, being members of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and the Collegedale String Quartet. Louis frequently played as a soloist on violin and occasionally piano. While still a student he taught violin at the college and conducted the school orchestra from 1938 to 1940.

Louis graduated from SJC in 1940.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 28, 1942 and served stateside until 1945.  He then enrolled at Loma Linda university, where he met L. Aileen Butka, who was a year ahead of him and pursuing a degree in anesthesiology. They married on June 30, 1946.  She was a daughter of medical missionary Hersel Butka, M.D., and his wife, who had served in Mexico and Bolivia. Louis graduated in 1949 from LLU as an M.D., certified in both heart and lung surgery.

In 1950, they went to Thailand as medical missionaries and played critical roles in the development of Bangkok Adventist Hospital and its four related schools and five smaller satellite hospitals, as well as a dental clinic, all in Thailand. Louis served as Medical Director and surgeon and Aileen taught anesthesiology.

After a furlough at the end of five years that included a residency in surgery for Louis, they returned in 1960 to serve for another five years. Founded in1937, by 1963 BAH had become the largest SDA Mission hospital in the world with nearly 400 workers caring for 285,000 inpatients each year. At the end of that term, the Ludingtons returned to live in California in 1965, so their children could be educated in the U.S. They would later return to Bangkok on brief relief missions.

All during his career as a surgeon and administrator, Louis had continued to play as violin soloist on special occasions. In the 1966 General Conference Session in Detroit, Michigan, he and his brother played a movement from concerto for two violins by Vivaldi, accompanied by the New England Youth Ensemble.  In 1970, although they were invited to play again as members of the Collegedale String Quartet, a featured group at the school's Homecoming, the 50th year since the first class had graduated from SMC, Louis was unable to go and Orlo Gilbert substituted for him

Louis was a Loma Linda University School of Medicine Honored Alumnus in 1971. He returned to Bangkok on a relief mission at Christmas time in 1975.  He was welcomed with enthusiasm by the community and his former patients and colleagues. However, during their visit celebration of their return, a nagging backache began which Louis ignored for two weeks.

He tried different treatments, but his condition worsened and he became paralyzed from his waist down. He was flown to the U.S. where he was diagnosed with cancer and then treated at the White Memorial Medical Center.  He died in December 15, 1976, at age 56. He was survved by his wife, Aileen; two daughters, Donna and Lori; three sons, Darryl, Lawrence, and Lance; and his brother, Cliff.



Sources: Louis Ludington obituary, Adventist Review, March 17, 1977, 21; biographical information at Find a Grave Memorial, Ancestry.com; L.G Ludington. "Bangkok Sanitarium and Hospital," The Messenger (Southeast Asia), May-June 1964, 1-6; Don C. Ludington obituary, Review and Herald, January 6, 1972, 26; Other online sources.