Kenneth Bartlett Didier, Business Owner

August 21, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Kenneth Bartlett Didier, former owner of a surveying instrument company and a recovering alcoholic who recently celebrated 38 years of sobriety, died Aug. 13 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care. The Grasonville resident was 81.

Mr. Didier, the son of a schoolteacher and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park.

After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1945, he enrolled at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., where he earned a bachelor's degree and was commissioned an ensign.

Mr. Didier sailed as a ship's engineer before he and his father established Surveying Instruments, a business that specialized in building, repairing and calibrating surveying equipment.

In the early 1980s, he sold the business, and went to work for Spectra Industries in Annapolis, from which he retired in the mid-1990s.

Since 1971, Mr. Didier has been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, where he sponsored and mentored hundreds of people, family members said.

"He also ministered to the inmates at the Eastern Pre-Release Unit in Churchville," said a stepdaughter, Stephanie McDermott, of Hamilton. "He believed absolutely in the principles he learned through AA and lived his life based on the 12-step program and the Serenity Prayer."

An environmentalist and outdoorsman, Mr. Didier enjoyed hunting, fishing and crabbing. He also did water testing of the Chester River and provided a nesting habitat near his home for ospreys.

He also enjoyed reading, NASCAR and fixing things, his daughter said.

His wife of 35 years, the former Elizabeth "Betsy" Voelker Zeller, died in 2008.

Services were Tuesday.

Also surviving are three stepsons, Matthew Zeller of Abingdon, Richard Zeller of Forest Hill and Robert Zeller of Fawn Grove, Pa.; two other stepdaughters, Patricia Poe of Lauraville and Susan Schott of Towson; two foster children, Wayne Canapp of Pasadena and Jessica Canapp of Baltimore; two brothers, John Didier of Catonsville and Paul Didier of Letohatchee, Ala.; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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