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Alexander Ludlum "Lud" Michaux Jr., career officer in Marines

McDonogh alum later oversaw the transformation of the Owings Mills school into a coeducational institution

By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

4:09 PM EDT, May 27, 2012

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Alexander Ludlum "Lud" Michaux Jr., a decorated career Marine Corps officer who fought in three wars and later presided over the transformation of McDonogh School into a coeducational institution, died May 20 of heart failure at Brightview Mays Chapel retirement community.

Colonel Michaux, who formerly lived in Rodgers Forge, was 90.

Born in Richmond, Va., Colonel Michaux was descended from French Huguenots who had settled in Powhatan County, Va., on a land grant from King William III of England in 1700.

In 1929, he moved with his family to Westminster, where he attended St. Johns School. After winning a competitive scholarship in 1935, he began his studies at McDonogh, which at the time was a military school.

An outstanding athlete, Colonel Michaux played varsity football, basketball and lacrosse, and was captain of the 1939 football team. He was selected All-Maryland in football and lacrosse his junior and senior years. The 1939 lacrosse team was the Maryland Scholastic Association "A" Conference champions.

While a scholarship student at Washington & Lee University, Colonel Michaux played varsity football and lacrosse.

He left college in 1942 and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Sent to the Pacific Theater, Colonel Michaux took part in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, where he was a rifle platoon leader.

Wounded, he was awarded a Purple Heart, and after recovering, was sent as a member of the occupation forces in Peking.

After being placed on active reserve, Colonel Michaux enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, where he played lacrosse and football, and also worked for the American Brewery.

He was a member of the 11th Engineer Battalion Marine Corps Reserve based at Fort McHenry.

Recalled to active duty in 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean War, he was sent to Korea with the 1st Marine Division, where he was a rifle platoon and company commander.

United Nations Forces under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur had pushed North Korean forces back across the Yalu river after the successful Inchon Landing in September 1950. General MacArthur ordered the Army X Corps, 7th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division to the Chosin Reservoir in northeastern North Korea, which was surrounded by extremely rugged terrain.

The Marines, some 25,000 strong, had taken up a position on the reservoir's west side, while the Army's Task Force Faith settled on the east side.

On the evening of Nov. 27-28, 1950, the Chinese unleashed a surprise attack, when 120,000 Red Army troops crossed the Yalu and attacked the forces at the reservoir.

After the battle raged for five days, American forces were ordered to evacuate from the reservoir, which forced them to fight their way out. The battle finally ended 17 days later.

For his part during the Battle for Chosin Reservoir, Colonel Michaux was awarded a Purple Heart, four Battle Stars and a Bronze Star with Combat "V."

"He never sat around and talked about any of this," said a daughter, Louise Michaux Gonzales, an attorney who lives in Mount Washington.

After accepting a regular commission in the Marine Corps in 1953, Colonel Michaux remained on active duty, and during the Vietnam War, was promoted to colonel.

He served in Vietnam for 13 months as the 3rd Marine Division's operations officer at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam.

For his final assignment before retiring in 1969, Colonel Michaux was a faculty member at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., where he also was director of studies for Southeast Asia.

Colonel Michaux had earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1962, and also graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., in 1966 and the Army War College in 1969.

He returned to McDonogh as director of development and in 1971 was appointed the school's first president and executive head.

Colonel Michaux led the effort in 1975 that transformed McDonogh from a military school to a coeducational one.

"In 1971 we formed a committee of faculty and staff to look at the school and suggest improvement," Colonel Michaux told The Evening Sun in a 1976 interview.

"Their biggest recommendation was that we become coeducational. They thought it would be a more realistic atmosphere. The majority of our students were going to coeducational colleges — every year there were fewer men's colleges to choose from — and many of them used to come back and say they wished they'd made that adjustment before college," he said.

"We also had interest from parents and alumni who wanted to send their daughters to McDonogh," he said, explaining that the policy was to accept the best-qualified applicants, boys or girls.

"That was the first time in 98 years that McDonogh students wore civilian clothes," said Ms. Gonzales. "He believed the time had come and that they'd do better being a civilian school rather than a military one."

"Lud was a very focused person and he served McDonogh well during an important and complicated period of time. He was a bridge," said George S. Wills, a retired Baltimore public relations executive and McDonogh alumnus. "He was both quiet and effective."

Eileen S. Toohey was a member of the first coeducational class that entered McDonogh in the fall of 1975.

"My impression of him was that he was a very strong leader in both stature and appearance and the way he talked. He could make decisions and always got right to it," said Ms. Toohey, a senior development associate at McDonogh.

"When you were in his company, you always stood up straight because he had been a career Marine officer," said Ms. Toohey. "He was a very friendly man but if you got into trouble, he'd go knee-to-knee with you in a very direct manner. And in the end, he'd break into a smile, and you knew that things were all right again."

After retiring from McDonogh in 1976, he and his wife, the former Cornelia Smith, whom he married in 1949, moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he worked as a real estate broker.

They returned to Rodgers Forge a decade later. Colonel Michaux volunteered at McDonogh and the Greater Baltimore Committee, participating in its College Bound Program and helping to raise $25 million for city public school graduates to attend college.

He was also a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where he was a member of its vestry and served on various other committees.

Colonel Michaux enjoyed playing tennis.

His wife died in 1995.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 20 at McDonogh's Tagart Memorial Chapel, 8600 McDonogh Road, Owings Mills.

In addition to his daughter, Colonel Michaux is survived by a son, Randolph M. Michaux of Ashburn, Va.; another daughter, Beverly Michaux of Mount Washington; a brother, Bernard B. Michaux of El Macero, Calif.; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Priscilla Roosevelt Levindowski, died in 1992.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com