Family, friends mourn student

Stabbing victim, 26, was to graduate from UM dental school

May 22, 2000|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

No newspaper notice announced the services, but mourners came by the dozens yesterday to remember Christian W. Ludwig -- and to share the heartbreak of dressing in black during what should have been a time of celebration.

"I can't believe how many people are here," said Patrick Ludwig, whose younger brother was killed early Saturday, a week before the Chicagoan was to graduate from the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore.

As still more of his brother's classmates from the dental school filed into the funeral home, he added, "Everybody just loves him."

Baltimore police continued yesterday to search for the killer of Ludwig, 26, who was stabbed in Southwest Baltimore after chasing a man who had stolen a friend's purse. Police said they had no suspect, but were increasing patrols in the Ridgelys Delight neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore where Ludwig lived.

Ending four years of dental school near the top of his class, Ludwig was killed after celebrating the completion of his dental board exams -- the last major academic obligation before his scheduled graduation Friday.

"It's in your mind for four years, getting past the boards and graduating," his roommate and fellow student Robert Collins said yesterday outside Charles L. Stevens Funeral Home in Locust Point. "We were probably in the most elated mood and the happiest we'd been in a long time."

Carrie Burmaster, a university counselor who went to the funeral home to comfort Ludwig's classmates, said, "The phrase everyone keeps saying is, `It was the happiest time of his life.' "

Spreading the word

Dental school students Saturday spread the word by phone of yesterday's hastily arranged viewing and funeral service, said Jo Martin, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

As two of the students arrived at the viewing, dental school Dean Richard R. Ranney hugged the women, saying, "How are you? Are you OK? It's awful."

At last night's funeral service at Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic Church on Fort Avenue, friends, instructors and university officials -- including David J. Ramsay, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore -- tried to make sense of the tragedy.

"It is all right to cry because, by this senseless tragedy, we are all diminished and our humanity is diminished," said the Rev. David Smith, standing before Ludwig's casket. "We may not understand the tragedy that brings us here, but I promise you that Christian has a better life now."

In a written statement read by Smith, Ludwig's closest friends described him as "a constant joy to be around" and as a person who had two kinds of days, "good days and great days."

Nicole Crawley, a friend, said Ludwig would be remembered for the cheer he always seemed to exude.

"He was so good-natured," Crawley said as she watched pallbearers load the casket into a waiting hearse. "I just can't believe that this happened to him."

Ludwig's body was to be flown today to Chicago, where he grew up, and where his parents and one of his two brothers live.

Family members were to attend services there.

His father, Weiland Ludwig, a chef at a Hilton hotel in Chicago, traveled to Baltimore this weekend with his son Patrick, 33.

Christian Ludwig was born in Freiburg, Germany, and moved with his family to Chicago at age 3, Patrick Ludwig said. Christian Ludwig came to Maryland as an undergraduate studying predentistry, joining friends at the University of Maryland, College Park.

`He wanted to help people'

"He wanted to help people. He wanted to go into medicine," Patrick Ludwig said.

After earning his undergraduate degree at College Park in 1996, Ludwig fulfilled his wish to train at the dental school in Baltimore. There, he charmed the staff, classmates and patients with his energy and cheer.

"Many people said he was their favorite of all the students," said Burmaster, the counselor. "He was the best and the brightest."

Collins, his roommate, described Ludwig as "always smiling, always wanting to do as many activities as possible, always wanting to get the most out of any occasion." Ludwig enjoyed running, skiing and snowboarding, and played intramural soccer, he said.

Ludwig was preparing to begin a postdoctoral fellowship studying gum diseases in Los Angeles.

After the dental students completed exams Friday, many went to dinner at an area restaurant, Collins said. At different times, some drifted back to the Ridgelys Delight home in the 600 block of Portland St. that Collins and Ludwig shared with two other students, Collins said.

A woman who was a classmate was walking to the home about 3 a.m. when she was accosted by a man in the 200 block of Emory St., police said. The man tried to take her purse and, after a struggle, threatened her with a knife. The woman let go of the purse and ran to Ludwig's nearby home.

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