Peter J. Pappas Prominent Businessman and Philanthropist Dies at 77

Peter Pappas prominent businessman and philanthropist Photo by Family

NEW YORK – Peter J. Pappas, 77, husband to Catherine, father to Peter Jr., James, and Tara, and grandfather to nine; a devoted Orthodox Christian, a dedicated Hellene of Cypriot descent, and a proud lifelong New Yorker who always cherished his family, religious and ethnic roots, fell asleep in the Lord on November 23, 2017.

Visiting Holy Trinity Cathedral, Monday 5-9 p.m. Funeral Service Holy Trinity Cathedral, 337 East 74th Street, New York, NY on Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers the Pappas Family asks that you consider making a contribution to the following institutions: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Shrine at WTC and Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Peter was born in Manhattan on December 8, 1939. His father was a butcher who emigrated from Cyprus, and his mother, a first-generation Greek American descended from Kalamata, Greece and born in New York City, worked as a seamstress for designer Pauline Trigere. Peter’s family, including his brother Chris, lived on West 29th Street in the Chelsea Flower District, in an apartment upstairs from his grandfather’s flower shop.

The Pappas family attended St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church on West 24th Street, where Peter met Catherine Skiadas. They participated together in the church’s GOYA activities, and Peter also played basketball with the Greek American Basketball League and the Long Island Star Journal League. Shortly thereafter, Peter went on to attend New York University. He and Cathy were married at the Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Corona on September 24, 1961, and then moved to Flushing.

It was then that Peter began his career working in the up-and-coming, rapidly growing air-conditioning industry. In 1971, Peter decided to start his own company, working out of the house with Cathy as his assistant, and launched the P.J. Mechanical Corporation. As his success grew, he and Cathy bought their own home in Oyster Bay Cove on Long Island, where they would raise their three children.

Forty-six years later, Peter was the long-standing Chairman of the Board of P.J.M. Holdings Group, a family-owned and operated corporation – consisting of P.J. Mechanical Corporation, Delta Sheet Metal Corporation, and other mechanical contracting firms. Since its inception, the company has grown to become the largest HVAC contractor in the New York metropolitan area, and among the largest mechanical contracting firms in the northeastern United States.

Peter’s company was tapped to lead mechanical contracting for the new World Trade Center Project at Ground Zero and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Additionally, they completed Yankee Stadium, Citifield (Mets), and Madison Square Garden. P.J. Mechanical also led major renovations at signature properties such as the Chrysler Building, Citicorp Building, AOL Time Warner Center, GM Building, Park Avenue Atrium and Morgan Stanley Properties. Coupled with the successes in the office towers were major infrastructure projects at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, Rockefeller University Hospital and other major New York City hospitals.

Peter was Chairman of the Board of 3doo, Inc. (a VR360 media technology company), served on the Board of Directors of Biovest International (developing personalized immunotherapies to treat blood cancers), the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, Cornell University Hospital, and the Michael J. Wolk Heart Foundation. Peter was also a real estate developer in New York as well as in Palm Beach, FL, Youngstown, OH, and Sacramento, CA.

Peter was a long-time Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, and the recipient of the Honorary Medal of St. Paul, one of the highest honors of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. He served on the Executive Committee of Leadership 100, supporting Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America; on the Archdiocesan Council, the highest legislative body of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and as Chairman of the 1996 Clergy-Laity Congress. He was a Lead Benefactor of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine Church on the site of the church destroyed by the September 11, 2001 terror attack.

Fiercely proud of his Greek and Cypriot heritage, Peter was a generous supporter of numerous Greek and Cypriot American cultural and political organizations. Pappas served on the Board of Directors of the Western Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. international relations institute specializing in U.S., NATO & EU issues in southeastern Europe. Peter was also President of the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC), served on the Advisory Board of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, and was former Board Director of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce. One of Peter’s most important and notable charities was his role as National Chairman of the Cyprus Children’s Fund (and ongoing sponsor of 20 children in Cyprus for more than 30 years), for which he was personally awarded by the President of Cyprus with the “Honorary Gold Medal of the Republic of Cyprus.”

In 2016, Peter was awarded the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award by the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, D.C. in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit, philanthropic endeavors, and fidelity to Hellenic causes. Peter also founded the New York State Hellenic American Republican Association in 1996, supported dozens of Greek American political candidates – Republicans and Democrats alike – and hosted many fundraisers and political events for Gov. George Pataki, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, and other leading lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels.

Peter was also an avid golfer, and his matches with his longtime friend Telly Savalas were legendary. Peter played golf with former President George H.W. Bush and many Hollywood stars. He was especially dedicated to the cause of promoting golf in Greece, with a vision to revolutionize tourism and economic development in his beloved country. To that end, Peter was the Executive Producer of the 2016 motion picture “Swing Away,” about a 10-year old Greek girl determined to become the world’s greatest golfer.

Throughout his life and career, Peter’s absolute love for his family, his tireless support for the Greek Orthodox Church and his Greek and Cypriot heritage, and his dedication to advancing multiple charitable organizations and causes, were all premised on his Christian ethos of generous and exemplary philanthropy: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)