Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Silvio Bedini

A friend and fellow Ridgefielder, Silvio Bedini, died at age 90 on November 14, 2007.
Silvio was a very interesting man, indeed.  I could not have summed up Silvio's life more eloquantly as did Robert Post in his article in Technology & Culture (April, 2008):   In memoriam: Silvio A. Bedini, 1917-2007.  I will mention some the highlights from that article here. 

Silvio was born in Ridgefield, CT and lived there until he entered Columbia University in 1935.  He left Columbia University to enlist in the Army and was eventually assigned to top secret military intelligence in Fairfax, VA and ended up in 1945 as chief MIS-X liason with the Pentagon.  Silvio's Army career came to an end with the end of WWII.  He then returned to Ridgefield and joined his father's contracting business doing landscaping. He had expected to return to Columbia, but his father's failing health precluded this.

 While working for the family company he would study history in the evening and began to write articles... He wrote for encyclopedias and for what were called 'true science' comics, which, like 'classic comics,' were designed to spice up elementary school curricula.
He got interested in antiquarian clocks and books and made the acquantance of Derek de solla Price at Yale and Bern Dibner at Burndy Corp.

For his first book in 1958 he wrote Ridgefield in Review, a history of his home town, for the 250th aniversary celebration.

Thereafter, he was invited to join the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology and Mel Kranzberg's Society for the History of Technology. These were the two most critical events central to establishing the history of technology as a scholarly discipline.

There were so many connections that Silvio and I shared. We were both Ridgefielders, although I must admit he was there way before me since I arrived in 1975 and he in 1917. We both had professional acquaintences in common: Derek De Sola Price at Yale, Bern Dibner at the Burndy Library in Norwalk, then there was the Columbia connection, the cryptography connection, the gardening, and, of course, the antique scientific instruments.  

He had come up to Ridgefield in 2007 for a visit with freinds and family, and, unfortunately, we missed each other on that trip.  Then, we were scheduled to have lunch together shortly before he died, but that got cancelled due to his ill health, and then he was gone. Gale, his wife, died shortly thereafter.  Silvio and Gale were buried in St. Mary's Cemetary, Ridgefield on May 31, 2008.  The world lost a real gem in his passing.

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