Mary S. Ludi

June 7, 1916-March 29, 2013


Mary Santucci Ludi was born to Maria di Urbino Caponi and Angelina Cicino Caponi in Dawson, New Mexico, a coal mining camp in Colfax County, on June 7, 1916.  Her mother died in a train accident,as she was walking across a rail road trestle with Mary. Eight month old Mary survived. Mary was soon adopted by Domenico and Maria Santucci, who had a daughter named Angelina.  Both natural and adoptive parents came from Italy. 

The Santucci’s moved to Maxwell, New Mexico a farming area in Colfax County.  Mary graduated from Maxwell in May of 1934.  This was during the time of  the Great Depression.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had started the “National Youth Corps” in which students who wanted to further their education could do so.  In the fall

Of 1934 Mary left for Las Vegas, New Mexico, to attend Normal University which later became New Mexico Highlands University. At the age of 21 and while taking 12 quarter hours Mary was allowed  to start her teaching career in a one room school in Chaperito, New Mexico. Her second year of teaching was at Conchas Dam High School.  When Conchas Dam High School closed the following year she went on to teach at Villanueva Junior High School and eventually to the West Las Vegas Schools. The founding of the West Las Vegas High School, with the Christian Brothers would give the community a good solid foundation which is still going strong today.  Mary taught in the West Las Vegas School system for twenty-three of her thirty six years as an educator.  She immediately felt welcome by the West Las Vegas community and loved working with the students and their parents.

Mary earned two degrees from New Mexico Highlands University, her B.A. in 1940 and her M.A. in 1958.  Her research project for her master’s program was in the flora of White Sands and the Carrizozo lava beds.  This research is in the Botanical Journal of 1959.   In 1978, Mary Ludi received the National Educator’s Association Hall of Fame Award, and 1993 the New Mexico Highlands University Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2007 an endowment scholarship was established in her name to ensure that the youth of Maxwell NM  as well as the those of West Las Vegas  could have an opportunity for success by helping them financially while attending New Mexico Highlands University.

Mary was united in marriage to Phillip Ludi on December 24, 1937.  The twenty year marriage produced three children. Margaret Ludi Tapley, who lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico, her offspring are Rosemarie Maestas and George Tapley.  Phillip M. Ludi, Jr. (deceased) of La Mirada, California and wife Alexis, offspring Janet and Nancy Ludi.  Darwin B. Ludi and wife Patricia of Chula Vista, California, and their three children Domenick Ludi, Stephanie Ludi and Melissa Ludi.   Besides her 7 grandchildren Mary has several great grand children.

Mary was a lifelong Catholic, she was a member of the San Isidro Catholic  Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she had made her home for the last 32 years.