May 11, 2005

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Ludwig home today on the corner of
St. Joseph and Hoffman Sts

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Lud Ludwig and August Pfaff
ca 1910

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Ludwig ca 1955

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Whit's Boys in 1912
Front row: John Pear, Dick Newnham, Daniel Keith Ludwig
Back row: Harry Pfaff, Hazen Konig, Charles Clapp,
Ivan Arends, John Aliber, Cary Bird and Charles Koning


In 1976 after the death of Howard Hughes and J. Paul Getty, Daniel Keith Ludwig was proclaimed by the New York Times to be the richest man in the world and there is no doubt that he was a world class mega-billionaire!

What most do not know is that Daniel Keith Ludwig- born in South Haven in 1897 - moved with his mother Flora Belle and his father Daniel L. Ludwig to Saugatuck at the age of seven and grew up right here on Hoffman St. He got his start shining shoes and selling popcorn in the Big Pavilion. His father, nicknamed "Lud" was a sailor, and a businessman who made a living selling real estate and dabbling in business ventures, including a partial ownership interest in the Pavilion.

According to a 1978 Commercial Record article by Kit Lane (who wrote a book titled The Popcorn Millionaire and Other Tales of Saugatuck), Keith Ludwig exhibited entrepreneurial talent at a young age--besides sellling popcorn, he managed the finances for the local ball team, bought an old boat, which he and Ky Walz rebuilt and sold for a profit. He was remembered as a likeable but disinterested student in the class of Mrs. Carl Bird. Elita Bird, a classmate remembered that Keith was interested in candy sales at the Bird Drugstore. Keith was a member of a group called "Whits Boys," a YMCA type group organized by Charles F. Whitcomb who lived on Holland St.

His parents separated when he was in the eighth grade-he then quit school and went to Port Arthur Texas with his father. At age 19, he left Texas to return north, where he bought a dilapidated Lake Michigan cruise vessel for $5,000 and converted it to a barge bulk carrier to haul molasses. In the next 20 years he proceeded to make his fortune--first by buying and leasing tanker ships, then building ships during WWll and ultimately established a diversified world-wide empire that included major interests in oil refining, coal mining, salt water conversion, agriculture, real estate, finance and banking. He was always somewhat of a loner and shunned publicity. In his most publicized venture, he invested billions in an unsuccessful timber farming venture (the "Jari Project") in the Amazon. When he died in 1992, he had no living descendents, and most of his fortune was left to his Cancer research foundation.
By Jack Sheridan

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