Nilo L. Vidi, who spent nearly 50 years making sure Baltimoreans’ knives remained sharp, died Friday from complications of dementia at his Woodbine home. He was 89.
The son of Pietro Vidi, also a knife grinder, and Maria Ferrari Vidi, a homemaker, Nilo Louis Vidi was born in Pinzolo, a small village in the Italian Alps, and spent his early years there.
His father came to Baltimore and settled in Little Italy in 1907. Nilo Vidi joined his father in America in 1935, arriving at age 8 at Ellis Island in New York Harbor on his way to Baltimore.
He was a graduate of St. Leo’s parochial school in Little Italy.
In 1942, Mr. Vidi joined his father’s knife-sharpening business in a Trinity Street rowhouse in Little Italy.
The elder Mr. Vidi traveled up and down city streets and alleys with a pushcart that held a grindstone, which he pedaled like a treadle sewing machine to sharpen knives, straight razors and scissors.
The heavy wooden pushcart was replaced by a horse and wagon, then replaced again in 1927 by a truck — the truck’s motor powered the wheel, bringing an end to the era of foot-pedaling.
Mr. Vidi served in the Army from 1946 until 1947, when he returned to Baltimore, and to the knife-sharpening business.
After the death of the elder Mr. Vidi, the business was divided, and Nilo and his late brother, Pietro Vidi, named their business Vidi Brothers.
For years, Mr. Vidi and his brother sharpened knives of homemakers, chefs, butchers and restaurant owners — and even sharpened lawn-mower blades — at a shop they maintained at Hamilton Avenue and Belair Road in Hamilton.
In a 1991 article, The Sun referred Mr. Vidi as “the dean of Baltimore’s grinders.” He retired in 1987, but kept active in the business.
The company, Vidi Cutlery Inc., is now owned and operated by his sons and grandsons and is located in Westminster. It works only for butchers and restaurants.
The longtime Woodbine resident, who was a world traveler and had visited all 50 states, returned several times to his ancestral town of Pinzolo.
Mr. Vidi was a fan of the Baltimore Colts, Ravens and Orioles.
His wife of 30 years, the former Mary Cole, died in 1979.
He was a communicant of St. Michaels Roman Catholic Church in Lisbon.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 915 Liberty Road, Sykesville.
Mr. Vidi is survived by two sons, David Vidi of Mount Airy and Paul Vidi of Sykesville; three daughters, Diane Sporer of Hampstead, Denise Scherer of Mount Airy and Janice Zablocki of Nottingham; 14 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Another son, Louis Vidi, died in 1952; and his longtime companion, Ruby Logue, died several years ago.