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Community remembers the life of Louis Tudor, longtime Roanoke business owner, coach

'If he were here, he would be here for anyone that needed him and that's just who Louis Tudor was'

ROANOKE, Va. – One of the Star City’s brightest is still shining even after his death.

The Roanoke community is honoring the life of longtime business owner, swimming coach and father Louis Tudor.

His family said he took his own life this week after struggling with mental health issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“He was a mentor, a coach; he was an all-around family man, incredible hard worker, so devoted to anything he did,” said Louis Tudor’s daughter, Hannah Tudor.

Whether it was coaching swim lessons or running the longtime downtown staple “Tudors Biscuit World,” which closed its doors in 2012, Tudor left a long-lasting impression on so many.

“He had a certain virility and passion that was so causal in his life, like running his restaurant and everything he did, he made it seem so simple and you almost don’t realize how amazing it was until it’s not there anymore,” said Louis Tudor’s son, Shane Tudor.

Louis Tudor’s family said he started having mental health issues around the beginning of the pandemic. As more outlets for him were taken away, he started to struggle more.

“He never struggled with this; he never had these underlying feelings...just the last couple of months took a toll on him and just from someone who never had those problems or that disease, just having it all of the sudden, it is such a disease and we just wanted to bring to light that there should never be a stigma about it,” Hannah Tudor said.

Friends like James Farmer and Wilton Kennedy said Tudor always felt right at home when coaching swim lessons and teams, and he struggled with not having an outlet to rely on.

“I think being away from that for two and a half months was really a difficult thing for him and I really do think that had a big impact on his mental health and the state that he was in,” Tudor’s friend James Farmer said.

“He had a gift for teaching people to swim who could not swim and a passion for helping people who could swim,” Tudor’s friend Wilton Kennedy said.

Hannah Tudor and her siblings Erin, Nick, and Shane, said their family wants to shed a light on the mental health impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.

"I just want everyone to know that people are struggling, and we hear you and we feel for you and the Tudors are here for anybody that may be feeling this way," Hannah Tudor said.

At the end of the day, Louis Tudor’s family wants the community to remember him for who he was: A loving father, friend and coach.

"If he were here, he would be here for anyone that needed him, and that's just who Louis Tudor was," Hannah Tudor said.

A sunrise service will be held for Louis Tudor on Sunday at the Hunting Hills Country Club pool. It’s open to anyone who wishes to honor Tudor’s legacy.

Tudor’s struggle with mental health is something many people are facing right now because of the pandemic. That’s why Family Services of Roanoke Valley is offering up to four short-term therapy sessions to anyone experiencing anxiety, depression or fear caused by coronavirus.

You can talk with someone tele-health or the phone from now to September.

"A lot of our tried and true networks for support may have gone away because everybody's been at home, so I don't think people necessarily have their networks in place anymore, so I think its really important to have people who will listen," Director of Mental Health Services at Family Service of Roanoke Karen Pillis said.

Sessions will be by video or phone call. To make an appointment, you can call Family Service of Roanoke Valley at 540-563-5316 ext 4653.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.