Curt Ludwig was a fixture in the Benton County Prosecutor's Office for decades, first as a young attorney learning the ropes and latertaking the reins when elected as the county's top lawyer.
He had a storied career that included serving in the state Senate and as a judge pro tem in Benton and Franklin counties.
But above all, those who knew him said he was a man committed to justice.
Ludwig, 83, died Thursday in Richland after having lived in the Tri-Cities for 52 years.
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"He had a passion for the law, and he always wanted to do the right thing," said Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller, who first came to know Ludwig when Miller was hired as a young deputy prosecutor.
"I think the most important thing he taught the deputies is that a prosecutor should work for justice and do the right thing," Miller told the Herald. "He believed in accountability but had a real passion for justice."
Ludwig, a native of Talent, Ore., came to the Benton County Prosecutor's Office in the 1950s and worked as a deputy until being elected as prosecutor in 1974. He served through 1986.
A Kennewick Democrat, Ludwig was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990 and was appointed to a seat vacated by fellow Democrat Jim Jesernig in 1993 before being unseated by Republican Pat Hale in the "Republican wave" of 1994.
During his time in the Legislature, he worked on criminal justice issues and on regulatory reform for small businesses, according to Herald archives.
After leaving the Legislature, he served as a judge pro tem in the two counties. He was appointed in 1996 to the state Gambling Commission by then-Gov. Mike Lowry. Gov. Gary Locke re-appointed him for a second term on the commission in 2000.
Miller said he'll remember Ludwig as a lawyer who had a talent for connecting with juries.
"He had a demeanor in the courtroom that was just great," Miller said. "He was always a classy guy."
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org