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James “Jim” Ludwig (1925–2020)

James “Jim” Ludwig (1925–2020)

In Memoriam: James “Jim” Ludwig (1925–2020)

San Francisco Ballet is saddened by the recent loss of Emeritus Trustee Jim Ludwig, who passed away on September 7, 2020.

Jim was President of the San Francisco Ballet Guild (a precursor to today’s Board of Trustees) from 1961–68. During his tenure, he brought his friends Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev to dance with San Francisco Ballet and arranged a week of performances at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Jim was part of the group that formed the San Francisco Ballet Association in the early 1970s, and served as a Trustee until July 1986 when he was elected Trustee Emeritus.

On the tenth anniversary of the Ballet building (now the Chris Hellman Center for Dance) opening in 1993, Jim was honored for his significant contributions to the organization during its formative years. He was a founder of the Christensen Society and a Christensen Society Honoree in fiscal year 2006. He was also involved in the establishment of San Francisco Ballet’s endowment program, for which he established three endowed funds focused on San Francisco Ballet School, dancer transition, and general purpose support.

Jim’s long and illustrious career included serving as a regional vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue; founder and chair of Century Oil and Gas Corporation in Denver, Colorado; president and chief executive officer of Medical Research Institute of San Francisco; president of Alpha Development Corporation in Casper, Wyoming; president of San Francisco Municipal Railway Improvement Corporation; director emeritus and president of Uptown Parking Corporation; president of Retail Merchants Association of San Francisco; vice president of SPUR; and a board member of Gap Stores, Inc. and Trader Vic’s, Inc. He held a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University, where he was a member of the Class Council and former class secretary. He taught merchandising at Marin College and served as a combat infantryman in World War II.

His incredible energy and thoughtful planning were instrumental in shaping SF Ballet into the solid institution it is today. “Jim was a respected leader and a good friend,” says Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “His love of SF Ballet was felt by everyone in this Company. He was a generous spirit and will be greatly missed.”