FORT MADISON – Local community, Iowa State Penitentiary, county and state officials packed the ISP conference room Friday to bid a fond farewell to the prison’s warden, Nick Ludwick.
Ludwick is retiring after 6 1/2 years as warden in Fort Madison and after more than 40 years in the Michigan and Iowa prison systems. He was congratulated by family, historians, ISP staff and administration and local, county and state officials for more than two hours Friday afternoon.
“I’ll return home to my family and I may write. My only regret is not coming to Iowa sooner,” Ludwick said in an earlier interview.
Ludwick ushered in the brand new state-of-the-art ISP facility on 330th Avenue and the transferring of the offenders to the new site, as well as overseeing cultural and internal modernization of the maximum security facility. Ludwick is in a stage 4 battle with cancer, a battle he’s been waging for close to 12 years.
“It’s been a positive experience,” Ludwick said of his time in Fort Madison. “To see the staff interactions and interactions with offenders. It’s just been great to have been a part of that culture change. I would like to thank the people of Iowa and my staff. Everyone has known I’ve been battling a medical situation, but I’ve had an open book about it. The biggest thing for me is thanking citizens of Fort Madison for the support they’ve given me. I leave with head held high, sooner than I would have preferred, but knowing full well that I have a capable replacement who is also a personal friend. My work is complete.”
Patti Wachtendorf, will take over the reigns of the prison in February. She is a former ISP staffer from 1983 to 1997 before moving up the ranks of the Iowa Department of Corrections, with her most recent position as the warden at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, a position she’s held since 2009.
The reception took place from 1 to 3 p.m. at ISP and then will move to Atlas Steak and Smokehouse in Fort Madison for an after-hours reception beginning at approximately 4 p.m.