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John F. Wilhide, commercial real estate executive and a founder of Nick’s Fish House, dies

John Frederick Wilhide was executive director of Cushman & Wakefield. He specialized in the sale and leasing of industrial offices and warehouses in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
John Frederick Wilhide was executive director of Cushman & Wakefield. He specialized in the sale and leasing of industrial offices and warehouses in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

John Frederick Wilhide, a real estate executive who was a founder of Nick’s Fish House, died of cancer Dec. 23 at Gilchrist Center Towson. The Bare Hills resident was 56.

Born in Catonsville, he was the son of Theodore Harper Wilhide, a commercial plant grower and florist and his wife, Kathryn Vanderback. He was a graduate of Baltimore Lutheran School and earned a bachelor of business administration degree at Loyola University Maryland.

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He met his future wife, Erica Cleaver, on a blind date at the John Stevens tavern in Fells Point. They fell in love on a second date at Kali’s Court. They married in 2003.

Mr. Wilhide was a commercial real estate broker and joined the CBRE firm in 1990. Colleagues said he specialized in the sale and leasing of industrial offices and warehouses in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. In 2017 he became executive director of Cushman & Wakefield and worked in downtown Baltimore.

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During his career he represented Amazon, GE Appliances, Home Depot, Best Buy, Prologis, Liberty Property Trust and Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Wilhide received the 2014 Dave Haggerty Award and the Broker of the Year from the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, also in 2014.

“John’s personality was infectious,” Michael Muldowney said. “He was a bigger-than-life kind of person who had a way of connecting the dots on both sides of the negotiation table. He was smart, personable and really kind.”

In 2002 Mr. Wilhide and several partners received Baltimore City Board of Estimates approval to buy an old Middle Branch of the Patapsco River marina. They rebuilt the property and renamed it Nick’s Fish House, a seafood restaurant.

“John brought the partners at the Fish House together. He had a knack of working with people. He was a fair-deal guy,” said former City Council member Anthony “Tony” Ambridge.

Said Thomas Chagouris, one of his restaurant partners: "John worked behind the scenes to get the Fish House built. Once we opened, he was there to bring business parties to the restaurant. His role was huge. John was always there, with high energy.”

Mr. Wilhide was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer, just after his 50th birthday in 2013. He received a liver transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center. In 2018, Mr. Wilhide and his wife founded the 2 Is 10 Foundation to advocate for and support the collaboration of doctors in the field of advanced medicine.

“The foundation stands for two doctors working together is better than 10 doctors working alone,” his wife said.

Said Mr. Muldowney: “He considered the last six years of his life to be a gift.”

His sister, Kristen Wilhide Rudolph of Ruxton, said: “He was known as the big man. He was 6-foot-5. He was large in stature and had an outsized personality. He had a zest for life, infectious laugh and a warm smile. John was never in a room full of strangers.”

Mr. Wilhide was an executive board member of the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. He was a patron of the Boys’ Latin School, the University of Maryland Transplant Center at Baltimore, the River International Church and the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeepers. He participated in charity golf tournaments.

Mr. Wilhide played basketball in high school and for a year in college. A member of the Baltimore Country Club, he was chairman of the pool committee. He began playing golf at 13 and often competed at Rolling Road Golf Club. Family members said his favorite courses were in Ireland.

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He followed the University of Maryland, Boys’ Latin and Loyola University Maryland sports teams in addition to the Ravens.

Mr. Wilhide was an outdoorsman. He hunted ducks on the Eastern Shore and fished from a pier in Gloucester Point, Virginia. He also sailfished in Venezuela.

“John enjoyed spending time outdoors with his family and friends,” his sister said. “He was the consummate hunting or fishing partner, and was always quick with an entertaining story, a helpful hint or encouraging words when the big one got away.”

Mr. Wilhide was a member of a fishing party aboard the Haphazard in the 2001 Ocean City White Marlin Open.

A life celebration will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St.

In addition to his sister and wife of 16 years, a former medical instruments representative, survivors include his two sons, John Mason Wilhide and Robert Laird Wilhide of Bare Hills; and another sister, Debbie Meyers of Sykesville.

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