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Aaron Thomas Ludwig Converse died suddenly and unexpectedly in Madison, WI on Sunday at the age of 26.

Aaron is survived by his parents Amy Ludwig Neeley and Tim Neeley of Plano, TX, brother Blake Neeley and his wife Sarah and their daughters Andrea and Ivy of Erie, CO; aunts and uncles Lyn Ludwig Johnson and Dennis Johnson of Flagstaff, AZ, Laura Rose of Boulder, CO, Raymond Ludwig and Jacqueline Ness-Ludwig of Fergus Falls, MN, Richard and Christine Ahl-Ludwig of Waukesha, WI, and Karl and Perry Ludwig of Dallas, TX, as well as many dear cousins, including Kyle and Troy Ludwig, with whom he was especially close. He is preceded in death by his uncles Thomas and Eric Ludwig and grandparents Richard Ludwig and Miriam Ludwig Post.

Aaron was born on Sept. 27, 1990 in Racine, graduated from Serenity High School in McKinney, TX in 2009 and was a full-time student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he was pursuing his interests in journalism and philosophy.

Aaron leaves behind many dearly loved friends in Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan. He will be remembered for his quick wit and sense of humor, loyalty, courage, and compassion, traits he demonstrated at a young age. At age eight, Aaron went door-to-door in his neighborhood selling his toys to raise money for his grandfather’s volunteer work in Haiti; this kind of compassionate and active involvement in the relief of others’ suffering continued throughout his life.

Aaron had the courage to speak from his heart, offer empathy, and celebrate others’ accomplishments.  An athlete dedicated to the sport of Mui Thai martial arts, Aaron was also a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, a lover of animals, and an occasional volunteer at the Racine Zoo. He was deeply connected to his friends and family, always demonstrating the capacity to meet people as they were, with the ability to listen and without the need to judge.  He will be missed by all who knew him.

A public celebration of Aaron’s life will be held Saturday at Preservation Hall, 740 Lake Ave., Racine. All are welcome to meet with the family from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. with a memorial service and luncheon to follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or the Zen Mountain Monastery, 871 Plank Rd., Mount Tremper, NY, 12457. Condolences can be sent to the family in care of the Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home website or 803 Main Street, Racine, WI, 53403.

Aaron’s family would like to thank his roommates Evan, Riley, and Sydnie, and the staff of the UW office of Dean of Students, Division of Student Life for their compassionate support during this difficult time.

If you are in crisis, know someone who is, or are seeking information on how to prevent the epidemic of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK.

“Goodbyes hurt the most when the story is not finished but the book has been closed.”