Kevin David Ludwig was born Feb. 16, 1985, in Redmond, Ore., as the youngest of three children.
He graduated from Redmond High School in 2003 and studied mechanical engineering at Oregon State University and Oregon Institute of Technology. He worked as a CNC machinist at Capsa Healthcare.
Kevin grew up snowboarding, and his older brother introduced him to surfing at the Oregon coast.
He soon discovered river surfing — surfing on a river rapid — when he was in his 20s and it became his passion. He founded the Oregon River Surfing Association to promote the sport. His desire to share the joy he felt while river surfing made him eager to introduce others to the experience. He shared new-found waves and wanted more than anything for the sport to grow, and to make surfing accessible to all.
He felt lucky to live in Oregon with its deep canyons, and especially loved surfing on the Deschutes, Salmon and McKenzie rivers.
In 2010, Kevin learned he had a brain tumor. While radiation and chemotherapy treatments were options that were considered at OHSU, he knew that they might not eradicate the tumor and that his life could be cut short — a heavy load to bear at 25. He paid close attention to his diet and personal fitness so he could pursue river surfing whenever he had a spare moment. Occasionally, he struggled to remain upbeat, but in recent years, the tumor’s progress stalled and his sunny disposition returned in force.
His buoyant optimism insisted on devising an answer to any problem. He took up long-distance bicycling as a way to train for and access his favorite surfing locations, using his engineering background to devise a surfboard rack on his bicycle. His passion for life was apparent in everything he touched.
Every adventure that came into his view he took an interest in; hiking, skydiving, bungee jumping, swimming, bike touring, river rafting, the list goes on. Kevin was inspiring in his drive to experience all life has to offer.
Kevin had an easy smile and kind eyes. Despite his natural shyness, he listened carefully to others and had a genuine desire to connect with people. He fiercely loved his family and recently traveled to Indiana to work for a few days on a cousin’s farm and visit relatives.
He found beauty wherever he looked, whether it was the sparkle of sunshine on a river or the delight in a loved one’s smile. He was determined to find joy and be grateful for every moment he had and refused to let setbacks win. He said, “Life has many ups and downs, but to fail and rise up is my definition of being wealthy and successful.”
A car accident claimed his life on Oct. 26, 2018. Surviving family members include his mother and father, Patti and Bruce Ludwig; his brother, Trent (Lauren) Ludwig; sister, Sandra (Brendan) McDonald; aunts and uncle Charlene Cranston, Carole Hall, Ann Ludwig, and Greg and Wanda Ludwig; plus numerous cousins in Portland, Ore., Indiana and Illinois.
He is preceded in death by his uncles Dwight Hall and Steve Ludwig, who passed earlier this year.
A memorial service for Kevin will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12:30 p.m. at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend, Ore., in the Father Luke Room.
A memorial fund has been established at www.gofundme.com/kevin-d-ludwig-memorial, with contributions for a dedicated picnic table at the Bend Whitewater Park in Bend.
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