Across the United States and as far as Greece and Cyprus, news of the November 20 passing of Peter N Marudas, the latest of a dwindling ‘Greatest Generation’ of Greek-American leaders to fall asleep in the Lord, brought both a sense of solemnity and deep appreciation to many apropos of Thanksgiving week during a pandemic. Ever an optimist, deeply devoted to community service and civic responsibility, Marudas’ hope for a brighter future after COVID would be anchored in the injunction that everyone work together.
Marudas was the beloved husband of Irene K. Marudas; devoted father of Nick Marudas and his wife Angela, and Kyriakos Marudas and his wife Monica; cherished grandfather of Mary Marudas and Peter Marudas; and dear brother of Tom Marudas. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and innumerable friends, as well as people he formally and informally mentored, a single conversation on any topic having been likely to enlighten, inspire, and at the very least, delight his listener.
Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of his friendship and guidance through the years was the late revered U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, whom Marudas served for many years as his Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill.
Best described as a multidimensional person and family man, Peter was active in Orthodox Church and Hellenic issues. He was a long-time and devoted board member of Orthodox Christian Laity. George Matsoukas, current board member, who served OCL as President and Executive Director, writes: “I was blessed to attend Peter’s 83rd birthday this past August 15, which is also his nameday. He planned the party all year and hoped COVID restrictions would not prevent it… I will miss his wisdom and humor. He was a devout Orthodox Christian. He was a person who loved life and lived life to the fullest. His faith informed all his decisions. He was an optimist about the future. He based his decisions on facts, the truth, and his intuition. He was prudent, intelligent, and able to bring people together. We pray for his soul and family. May his memory be eternal.”
An article shared by OCL board member Peter J. Petkas paints an insightful portrait of Marudas. It was published by the Baltimore Sun in 2001 when Marudas retired. Carl Schoettler began the piece by citing one of Marudas’ public service experience, and then said that it exemplifies “Pete Marudas’ style: kind, thoughtful, generous and politically astute. For nearly 35 years, Marudas has brought his particular, perhaps unique, political acumen to Baltimore, Maryland and national politics.”
Schoettler said of Marudas’ retirement, “now, he’s bowing out. Thursday he celebrated his 64th birthday, basically working in his Washington office, although well-wishers flooded the Sarbanes switchboard with birthday wishes and goodbyes,” and he quoted Marudas saying, “it’s an existential decision. We got the senator re-elected in the fall and he’s now a chairman, which is what we were working for all the years. The Banking Committee – you can really do a lot there, the predatory lending business, you know, and just the integrity of the capital markets.”
Among the causes that shaped Marudas’ political thinking was organized labor. “You look at society: Wherever you have free trade unions, they’re one of the essentials of a free society,” said Marudas, whom Schoettler described as “an unreconstructed Roosevelt New Deal Democrat, with perhaps overtones of Adlai Stevenson.” Sarbanes said, “he’s very strong democrat with a small ‘d’. “He’s a good Democrat with a big ‘D’. But more importantly he’s a democrat with a small ‘d’.” He then added about his dear friend, “he doesn’t have an ounce of meanness in him, at all… He’s really very generous and respectful with people. He really accords people their dignity.”
Schoettler wrote, “the two met when Marudas was covering City Hall for The Evening Sun. Marudas had studied journalism and earned a master’s degree at Ann Arbor. He came to Baltimore to work on The Evening Sun in 1963. Although Marudas grew up in Detroit and Sarbanes in Easton, Marudas says their roots were in the same province in Greece, Laconia, in Sparta.”
Marudas told Schoettler, “our villages are 15 or 20 miles apart… We got to know each other, became personal friends and then our careers came together in ’71,” when he joined Sarbanes staff nine months after his election.
“Somewhat paradoxically,” Schoettler wrote, “Marudas’ first political job was for a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who had been governor of Maryland and was in his second term as mayor of Baltimore. McKeldin was a liberal Rockefeller Republican of a type virtually extinct in today’s GOP.”
Marudas said of the job offer, “I went home and talked it over with my wife and my mother-in-law,” and Schoettler notes, “his wife, Irene, has been perhaps his closest advisor. They’ve been married for 39 years.”
Marudas figured that with Baltimore being the sixth largest city in the United States, “it will be a chance to get a look at the inside of government and maybe come out again and pursue a career in newspapering.”
“He was a quick learner,” Gene Raynor, the former head of the state election board,” told Schoettler. “He became a master of precinct politics in the Byzantine world of politics in Baltimore City in the mid-’60s. There were not many people around who understood it as well as Pete Marudas. If I were a candidate anywhere in this state I would seek out Pete for advice. Paul is a kind of brainy guy…but he was in the clouds. Marudas was right down to earth. They complemented each other.”
Schoettler, saying what hundreds who know Marudas would second, noted that Marudas, “has not changed much over the years. He’s an animated talker whose conversation moves by digression. His conversation veers happily from local to national to international politics like a bumper car in an amusement park.”
Another Baltimore mayor, Thomas A. D’Alesandro III, said of Marudas, “he brought one outstanding faculty as far as service to me as mayor and I think maybe to Sarbanes as senator. He had the ability to read people. He could sense sincerity or baloney. I don’t ever remember him trying to take credit for anything. Everything was for me as mayor and Sarbanes as senator… I loved the guy.”
Schoettler said, “Sarbanes tells roughly the same story. When you draw advice and counsel from Peter, the bottom line is – always do the right thing. If he thinks you’re going in the wrong direction he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms. And he’ll keep telling you if you keep moving in that direction.”
Those are tributes to the serious side of Peter Marudas, but there was a fun side too, that includes sports – and especially music, among other interests. Schoettler concluded by writing, “but right now Marudas plans to go to a wedding in Detroit with his wife, Irene. He’ll listen to a lot of jazz. And he’ll do a lot of dancing. He and Irene love dancing, especially salsa.”
Everlasting be his memory.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (annunciationbaltimore.org) or IOCC (IOCC.org). You may access the Funeral Home’s Guest Book and Condolences here: https://www.ruckfuneral.com/obituary/peter-marudas.