John C. Kidd, 75, Pride of Baltimore director

October 22, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Cleveland Kidd, retired vice president of a flooring business and a former director of Pride of Baltimore Inc., died of cancer Saturday at the North Baltimore home of his fiancee. He was 75.

A Baltimore native raised in Homeland, Mr. Kidd graduated in 1946 from McDonogh School. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1950 from the Johns Hopkins University and was a member of its national champion lacrosse team, which went undefeated from 1947 to 1950.

After his graduation from Hopkins, Mr. Kidd enlisted in the Army and served in counterintelligence in Trieste, Italy.

Returning to Baltimore in 1953, he joined his father at Kidd & Buckingham Lumber Co., a family-owned business on Russell Street. The company, which traded in rare and exotic woods, supplied materials used during a restoration of the White House undertaken during the Truman administration.

After a fire destroyed the lumber company in 1960, Mr. Kidd established Servco Hardwoods on Susquehanna Avenue in Towson. In 1967, he closed the business and joined Tate Access Floors Inc. in Jessup, where he remained as a vice president for 20 years until retiring in 1987.

A longtime Rodgers Forge resident, Mr. Kidd moved in the early 1970s to Lee Street in the city's Otterbein neighborhood, where he restored a 200-year-old home.

Long an enthusiastic fan of vintage watercraft, Mr. Kidd became fascinated with the first Pride of Baltimore, which was built during the 1970s in a makeshift shipyard on the western shore of the Inner Harbor.

He would often walk over from his Otterbein home to watch the shipwrights at work, or bring chilled beer for them at the end of the day.

During the early 1980s, he became a director of Pride of Baltimore Inc. - a position he held when the original Pride was lost along with four crew members during a storm in 1986 north of Puerto Rico.

"He was always a great friend of the Pride, and when he worked for Tate, they hosted receptions on the ship all the time," said Gail Shawe, the ship organization's former executive director. "He orchestrated those receptions, which went a long way in helping establish the Pride as a viable economic instrument."

In 1987, he and his wife, the former Anne Roche, whom he married in 1951, moved to Walloon Lake on Michigan's Northern Lower Peninsula - known as the "Tip of the Mitt"- to an old home that had been in Mr. Kidd's family for five generations, and where they had spent their summers.

When the Pride or its successor Pride II was in Michigan waters, Mr. Kidd made sure that the crew stopped by his home for a day of relaxation.

"I first met Jack in my early years with the first Pride and he was most enthusiastic about using the ship as a marketing tool. He probably accounted for over 50 parties during a three-year period," said Capt. Jan Miles, now master of the Pride of Baltimore II.

"We were coming east out of Chicago in 1981, and Jack said, `You're going to pass right near my home. Why don't you stop by?' I didn't want an unscheduled party but he was successful in persuading me. It became a day of rest for all of us. We were away from work, the ship, and the madding crowd. There was swimming, food, fishing, canoeing, and he'd give us rides in his vintage Chris-Craft runabout," Captain Miles said.

"So, it became a tradition that whenever we were in the Great Lakes, we stopped by Jack's."

Mr. Kidd owned and used several antique outboard motors, and among his prized nautical relics was a 1904 Oldtown canoe that had been owned by author Ernest Hemingway, whose family had a summer home on Walloon Lake - the setting for his Nick Adams short stories.

Hemingway's sister, Madelaine "Sunny" Hemingway, had taken the canoe to a cousin of Mr. Kidd's to be repaired. It remained unclaimed after her death in Florida in 1995.

"He was closing the shop and asked my father if he wanted Ernie's canoe. He didn't want it to fall into someone's hands who would sell it or not appreciate it," said a son, John C. Kidd Jr. of Baltimore.

Mr. Kidd was a former member of the Baltimore Country Club and Johns Hopkins Club.

His wife died in 1999.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

He is also survived by two other sons, Thomas B. Kidd of Millersville and Walter J. Kidd of Petoskey, Mich.; a sister, Helene Burgin of Roland Park; six grandchildren; and his fiancee, Patricia Carroll Kaestner.

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