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Frank Ludlow Kanig April 5, 1947 - March 28, 2024

Frank Ludlow Kanig was born in San Francisco, CA on April 5, 1947 to Lavinia Ludlow Kanig and Charles William Kanig. On Thursday, March 28, 2024 he passed away unexpectedly from cardiac arrest, freed at last from years of pain he endured.

As a very young boy Frank showed a dramatic side! Our mother taught him to sing “I am the little New Year, ho ho. Here I come tripping in over the snow…” which he performed publicly, dressed in a diaper, a banner with the year 1949, and proffering a top hat. After this early Thespian indoctrination that made an obvious lasting impression, he later was in memorable productions of South Pacific and as Mayor Shinn in The Music Man under the wonderful tutelage of the marvelous Spanish Fork High School duo of Robert Evans and B. Davis Evans.

At the College of Southern Utah (now SUU) the inimitable theater director, Fred Adams, discovered Frank in his freshman year and cast him in My Three Angels; and in the following three years of college Frank portrayed Merlin in Once Upon a Mattress, John Proctor in The Crucible, and King Henry VIII in Anne of a Thousand Days. With Fred Adams, the CSU Theatre Department took the first place award in the State Shakespeare competition with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Frank played the character Nick Bottom. This production became the inaugural launch of the incomparable Tony-award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival for which Cedar City has been the home for over 50 years. Fred Adams asked our mother if she had read to Frank as a child, to which she proudly answered yes. He told her he had had only one other actor who could pick up a script and read it with feeling the first time through, and both had been read to as children. Mr. Adams recognized our mother throughout the years and specifically remembered Frank and his talents to her always.

While working in the coke oven plant at Geneva Steel, Frank heard from a cousin who was the director’s assistant about the need for extras in a movie being filmed in downtown Salt Lake City, using the old Auerbach Department store as a set for a psychiatric institution. He and another cousin heeded the call for extras, and from that production in the late 1970’s until 2022, when he was last hired as a character in the 5th Season of Yellowstone, Frank appeared in many a movie filmed in Utah and the West – from Promised Land, Buttercream Gang, Halloween 5, Touched by an Angel, to several LDS film studio productions, to name just a few. (See Kanig – IMBd)

As an artistic producer of Western Folk Life documentaries, Frank was invited to attend the Cowboy Poetry Conventions in Elko, Nevada to discuss and premier several of his Deep West Video documentaries, notably Astronomers and Sheepherders, Home on the Range, A Tale of Two Barns, Pictures on the Wall, and Requiem. (YouTube Deep West Videos, Frank Kanig)

Frank loved to travel, and after many years exploring the beautiful southern Utah canyons, he ventured across the Atlantic 6-8 times to discover Europe and the Mediterranean and travel through the Panama Canal. He was an “elite” passenger on The Queen Mary, Holland American Königdam and others, delighted that he could have as many of the delectable desserts as he could carry back to the stateroom.

Frank proudly kept and nurtured the legacy of being a tried and true sheep rancher from his grandfather, Fred Ludlow, and always maintained the crusty strength of the Sierra Nevadas from his California Fish and Game warden father and the indomitable spirit of the mountain men and women of the Kanig family. He was an avid member of URARA – Utah Rock Art Research Association – and helped further the preservation efforts of priceless ancient Native American rock art and artifacts.

People who have known him for merely a few short weeks and friends of over 10, 50, 60 or 70 years have exclaimed alike the same admiration for his incredible personality, his creative and engaging humor, his intelligent and philosophical thinking, and his evocative challenges against the mediocrity of thought. He lived much of life on a higher plane and bowed to a higher power. He was a lover of Nature and always did his best to save the wayward snail, the bedraggled stray cat, the smallest lamb, and to marvel at the earliest snow drops and Spring violets, the Summer’s lush Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors rose, and the aspen’s gold. He was a champion of the underdog.

He is preceded in death by his beloved parents, Lavinia Ludlow Kanig and Charles William Kanig; his Ludlow and Kanig grandparents; favorite aunts and uncles; his beloved dog Souphound and Gypsey, his extraordinary cat. He is survived by his only sister, Serena Kanig Benish, brother-in-law George Benish, and two nieces, Serena Lavinia Benish and Anna Ludlow Benish; as well as by many loving Ludlow and Kanig cousins and their families; and by faithful, incredible friends who have loved him well and long over the years. We as a family want to thank the dedicated ICU Code Blue team at Utah Valley IHC under Dr. Dixie Harris; and his many specialists – Dr. Matthew Walton, DNP Kesia Lynch, Dr. Jeffrey Wallentine, Dr. Nathan Momberger, Amber Barker and Steven Larsen, Dr. Kenneth Yonemura, Dr. Matthew Ollerton and their excellent medical teams; and for the kindness of Denise Forbush who has faithfully and selflessly helped him in so many ways the last few years.

A memorial service will be announced for a later time to celebrate his remarkable life. “There is the land of the living and the land of the dead, and the bridge between them is love; the only survival, the only meaning.” Thornton Wilder The Bridge of San Luis Rey.”

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There will not be a viewing or visitation

~ Memorial will be held at a later date ~

Condolences(11)

  1. REPLY
    Judy says

    What a great tribute to Frank. We will miss his smile and his stories. He was always cheerful despite his health problems. So sorry for you loss.

    • REPLY
      Angus McDonald says

      Frank,
      My life long friend, I am missing you and our hours long conversations, your travel guide abilities and your sense of humor.
      We had some great adventures and have survived some interesting life choices. You always amazed me whenever you would tell stories about your past experiences. You had such a deep and rich life resume.
      It’s my hope that we’ll meet again and share in an adventurous eternity. Until then–
      Love Angus

  2. REPLY
    Patti Ludlow says

    Oh this truly breaks my heart. After Pete passed I kept saying I needed to come up more often. Frank was such a great guy. Now they can go shear some sheep together

    • REPLY
      Trisa Johnson says

      I’ve known Frank for 20 plus years. He was a good friend. I was just over to see him the first part of March. I didn’t think he would leave us so soon. Frank I love you and I will miss you. I know your probably already on a cruise up there. We were going to go I’m sorry we missed doing that. I hope someone is taking care of your cats I know you loved them. Rest in pease my friend. Love Trisa

    • REPLY
      Angus McDonald says

      Frank,
      My life long friend, I am missing you and our hours long conversations, your travel guide abilities and your sense of humor.
      We had some great adventures and have survived some interesting life choices. You always amazed me whenever you would tell stories about your past experiences. You had such a deep and rich life resume.
      It’s my hope that we’ll meet again and share in an adventurous eternity. Until then–
      Love Angus

  3. REPLY
    Steven Acerson says

    URARA will miss his presence. Bless the family, and those who had the chance to share the trail with him.

  4. REPLY
    Kaye Bona Ward says

    Serena, you have written a beautiful memorial of Frank. I am still devastated at his passing, and think of him when I want to go travelingl. He could tell me the history of everything we saw. I loved him so much! He was so much fun as an ‘older brother’ when he and Roger were in high school. I remember their cars and them racing on the other side of ‘cut bridge’. Always keeping them waxed and shiny! Again, thank you for this wonderful memory of Bubba!

  5. REPLY
    Trisa Johnson says

    I’ve known Frank for 20 plus years. He was a good friend. I was just over to see him the first part of March. I didn’t think he would leave us so soon. Frank I love you and I will miss you. I know your probably already on a cruise up there. We were going to go I’m sorry we missed doing that. I hope someone is taking care of your cats I know you loved them. Rest in pease my friend. Love Trisa

  6. REPLY
    Gina Hupka says

    Bubba (Frank) was one of a kind. I cherish the time and memories from the 57 years of our friendship. His interest in and knowledge of so many subjects made spending time with him such an enriching adventure. He cared so deeply about so many things.

  7. REPLY
    David says

    Frank was the most interesting person I have ever known. I credit this to his interests in almost everything; there wasn’t a topic or subject that he didn’t have some knowledge about and could discuss. My most favorite memory is a day we spent together in his trailer parked in front of Maggie’s home in Briceland. We played guitars and sang every song we ever knew. Frank kept me up with what he was doing and what our friends were up to until the end. I’ll miss him every day. Rest in Peace Brother,

  8. REPLY
    David Degner says

    Frank was the most interesting person I have ever known. I credit this to his interests in almost everything; there wasn’t a topic or subject that he didn’t have some knowledge about and could discuss. My most favorite memory is a day we spent together in his trailer parked in front of Maggie’s home in Briceland. We played guitars and sang every song we ever knew. Frank kept me up with what he was doing and what our friends were up to until the end. I’ll miss him every day. Rest in Peace Brother.

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