Charles T. Ludington, AFS Class of 1915, loved his time in Coconut Grove: “The Adirondacks were wonderful but not unique …. the truly outstanding feature was the winter term at Coconut Grove …This was the land of mysterious mangrove-buttressed creeks, far, low-lying horizons, rustling palms, big fish, beautifully shaded and warm colored waters and the Dry Tortugas.” He went on to become an aviation pioneer, but according to his son, C. T. “Towny” Ludington ’53, he was happiest during his time along Biscayne Bay. Later in his life, while serving as Chairman of the Board of the Ransom School, he guided his fellow trustees as they made their decision to close the northern campus and focus the Ransom School on life in the developing city of Miami.
This passion for Florida’s environment was passed down to Towny, who arrived at the newly re-opened Ransom School in 1947. With fond memories of sleeping in the Pagoda and the Jungalow (a dormitory since demolished), Towny’s most striking memories are of Biscayne Bay and the mangroves – plus the incredible freedom that the boys had to explore Florida’s undeveloped environment. He went on to finish his studies at Exeter and Yale, returning to teach at Ransom alongside the newly arrived Dan Bowden. After two years, Towny left Coconut Grove, intending to pursue a teaching degree at Duke, which soon became a PhD in English. He spent the rest of his career as a pioneering academician, helping establish programs in American Studies, African-American Studies and Native American Studies at the University of North Carolina, retiring as a distinguished professor of American Studies. Like his father, he too transformed his profession, opening minds to new disciplines and fields for exploration.
The youngest of four children, Towny admired how happy his father had been when recounting his experiences at AFS, and to honor that spirit, he has chosen to include Ransom Everglades in his estate plans by directing a bequest in memory of Charles T. Ludington ’15. “I could see the spirit of Paul Ransom in everything that my father did,” Towny said. “The commitment to improving the world can be seen in the work he chose to do and in his many charitable endeavors.”