EdgeCraft Corporation founder, chairman and CEO Daniel D. Friel, an acclaimed inventor, world-renowned for engineering the best-selling Chef'sChoice brand of small kitchen electrics, passed away September 21. He was 92.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founder and beloved friend Dan Friel. He was a brilliant businessman, inventor and pioneer who forever changed the fundamentals of knife sharpening," says EdgeCraft president Sam Weiner. "Building an enterprise that in a few short years became the world leader in sharpening technology is a true American success story. His unwavering commitment to quality and innovative excellence is a legacy that will live on through his family, friends, employees, the products he invented and the consumers who enjoy them," Weiner says.
Born in 1920 in Queenstown, Maryland, Friel received a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from John Hopkins University in 1942. He began his career on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago where the first atomic reactor was assembled. Friel then spent 39 years with the DuPont company where he helped pioneer such products as Riston Dry Film Photo Resist, used in the manufacturing of circuit boards. At the time of his retirement from the company, he was the worldwide director of instruments and biomedical products.
At the age of 65, Friel founded the EdgeCraft Corporation, taking knife sharpening from its primitive roots of stones, wheels and rods into the 21st century with the launch of its first Chef'sChoice electric knife sharpener in 1985. Friel's technologically advanced sharpener immediately earned the acclaim of food experts and chefs worldwide including Craig Claiborne, Pierre Franey, Jacques Pépin, and Julia Child.
"Dan Friel literally established sharpeners as a separate and important product category in the worldwide consumer market,” Weiner says. Today, the Chef'sChoice brand is not only recognized as market leaders for professional knife sharpeners, but also for advanced cutlery and other upscale kitchen electrics including tea kettles, waffle makers, and food slicers.
Friel's brilliance as inventor and businessman spanned decades and two distinctive careers. During that time he authored numerous technical papers and hundreds of U.S. and foreign patents on his work at both DuPont and EdgeCraft. He was active with EdgeCraft Corporation until the last week of his life. He was also a founder and chairman of the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory located in Mt. Cuba, Delaware. He was a man of several passions who had an insatiable curiosity for all of life's beauty and wonder. These passions led to several other personal achievements including pioneering the first high-speed photography studies of hummingbirds and most recently, inking exquisite watercolor paintings.
Friel was married in 1943 to June, who passed away in 2008 and remarried in 2010 to Carolyn Blish. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and three children, Barbara Holme of Denver, Patricia Friel of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Daniel Friel Jr. of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, along with six grandchildren.