BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Sun inducted 12 remarkable men and women who have made a difference in a wide range of fields into their Business and Civic Hall of Fame.
This first dozen notables of Baltimore’s business and financial communities were honored at a ceremony on June 9 at the downtown Center Club.
Among the inductees are two extraordinary Greek-Americans— lawyer and Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos and baking mogul and developer John Paterakis, Sr.
Both Angelos and Paterakis are decidedly devoted to the city of Baltimore and the community has benefited tremendously by their charitable efforts.
One of those who attended the Hall of Fame induction dinner, George Petrocheilos of Camden Partners, noted that when was asked independently to name their favorite charity, both named the Greek Orthodox Church.
Born in Baltimore, Angelos is the son of John and Frances Angelos who, immigrated to the United States from Menetes, Karpathos. John was a tavern-owner who spoke Greek at home and the family lived in Highlandtown, a working class neighborhood.
Peter Angelos attended Patterson Park High School, then the University of Baltimore where he earned his bachelor’s degree.
He then attended the University of Baltimore Law School at night, becoming the valedictorian of his class.
Angelos passed the bar exam in 1961 and opened a law firm taking on product-liability cases for employees, almost always on a contingency basis, in other words, not charging legal fees until after winning the case for the client.
One of his most famous cases involved 8,700 steelworkers, shipyard workers, and manufacturers’ employees in an asbestos poisoning consolidated action lawsuit. The case was partially settled in 1992. Angelos’ law firm has offices in Baltimore, Cumberland, MD, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, PA, Wilmington, DE, and Knoxville, TN.
Lifelong Democrat Angelos was the first Greek-American elected to the Baltimore City Council, serving from 1959-1963. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor as an independent in 1964 and made history in spite of losing the election when he ran for mayor in 1967 on the first interracial ticket in Baltimore.
As principal owner of the Baltimore Orioles since 1993, Angelos refused to sign the document blaming the players for the baseball owners’ cancellation of the remainder of the 1994 season. His experience as a negotiator could have brought the strike to a speedier conclusion, but the other owners kept him off the negotiating committee.
When it appeared the strike might continue into 1995, Angelos refused to even consider bringing in replacement players, making him a hero to working class Baltimore and garnering respect and admiration throughout the country.
Angelos married Georgia Kousouris in 1966 and they have two sons, John, who is the COO of the Orioles, and Louis, who works at the law firm.
Among his charitable contributions, Angelos supports numerous local causes, including the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in downtown Baltimore, and is the largest individual donor to the University of Baltimore.
In 2010, he made an anonymous donation to keep the city pools open during a terribly hot summer. Angelos is often reluctant to boast about his good works.
He had to be convinced to reveal he was the donor of a building that bears his parents’ name at the University of Baltimore and finally relented when it became clear that his gift and his name would attract more donors.
John Paterakis Sr. is perhaps not as well-known as Angelos, but it is his bakery that supplies McDonald’s with 2 million buns per day. He took a risk buying the necessary equipment even before the deal was made, and it worked out for the best.
His investment in the real estate of Baltimore when many doubted that the city could sustain its development also proved Paterakis’ business acumen.
As reported in the Baltimore Sun, University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke was mayor at the time Paterakis began developing Harbor East, and observed, “There were a number of people who told him to send his money elsewhere. They thought the momentum for harbor development had stopped. He had the foresight to believe it was going to continue.”
Paterakis was born in Baltimore in 1929, the son of Isidore (Steve) and Kyriaki Paterakis who immigrated to the United States in 1921.
Their roots are in Chios, but it was in Baltimore that the Paterakis and the Tsakalos family established H&S bakery named after Harry Tsakalos, John’s uncle, and Steve Paterakis.
Harry had married Steve’s daughter Liberty who also kept the books for the company in the early years.
In 1950, John inherited his father’s interest in the business, famously making the deal with McDonald’s in 1965.
Since then, the company has expanded and sells products up and down the eastern seaboard and throughout the south to Texas in 23 states and counting. Paterakis married first wife Antoinette Apostolos in 1950, and they had six children together.
The family-owned and operated business continues with many of the children and grandchildren joining the company. Paterakis, with wife Roula, lives modestly and quietly donates to Baltimore’s Greek Orthodox churches and many other local causes.
Paterakis said at the induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame, “Remember, I’m just a little Greek baker that got lucky.”
He went on to quote his mother in Greek and then translated, “Everything we do in life we do it for our children.”