The ink had not dried on my commentary about the death of Dan Georgakas before the news arrived, late on Thanksgiving evening: another great Greek-American, Peter Marudas, a ‘necessary Greek-American,’ as I described him in a previous commentary – see below – passed away. Quietly. As was his style.
Some readers may not be well aware of who Peter was, because that is what he wanted. He was humble, quiet. He was a man who, although he started his career as a journalist, avoided the limelight.
I remember how difficult it was to persuade him to give us an interview for our PERIODIKO weekend magazine (February 6-7, 2021) and he probably accepted because he felt that his ‘time’ was approaching.
My commentary then, in that edition of PERIODIKO, was titled: Peter Marudas, ‘A Necessary Greek-American’ and I wrote, among other things, the following:
“Peter Marudas, the man we worthily present on the cover of PERIODIKO, is one of the ‘necessary Greek-Americans.’ I call ‘necessary’ those members of the Greek-American community who are its pillars, those who hold it upright. They help make it ‘work.’ They are the people who do the Community’s work in the background. Those we turn to for advice, for their help with officials in matters concerning the Community, Greece, and Cyprus.
“As a ‘necessary’ person, Peter was right at the top, given his position as a close colleague and friend of the late Senator Paul Sarbanes. ‘Our villages,’ he likes to say, ‘are close to each other. We are both Laconians.’
“And he not only helps, but does it politely. With a smile.
“Peter was born in Michigan and studied journalism. I think deep down he always remained a journalist. He moved to Baltimore in 1963 to work for The Evening Sun. There, he met Sarbanes and from that point on they were inseparable.
“What sets Peter apart, at least from my point of view, is that he has a deep, mature mix of Hellenism and Americanism. He is, of course, a loyal, good American citizen. By that I mean that Peter is not a random citizen, a person who happens to be an American because he was born here. He is a conscientious citizen. A citizen who is deeply inspired by the noble ideals of this country. By its history and its destiny. Based on these, he lives his life. And he does what he can to promote them.
“Peter also has the old American virtue of integrity. He has rules according to which he lives. His life has an uncompromising moral foundation.
“Along with his American character, he is also a good Greek-American and Orthodox Christian with many years of service in the Church. Criticising, out of love, in critical times in its history. He also has profound reverence for his origins, faith in God, and love for Greece.
“I consider it an honor to include Peter among my friends.”
These are the things I wrote then. And I would not change a word.
I would just add something that always moved me. Peter deeply believed in the need for and the mission of The National Herald – both of our publications.
He was one of my informal advisers. Some time ago, he was shaken up by the possibility of a new rift in the Greek-American community, because he knew how damaging that could be, recalling the ‘great division’ between the Venizelists and the followers of King Constantine in the early 20th century.
He was deeply aware, perhaps due to his journalistic career, of the need for the Community to receive timely, trustworthy information, in both languages. “A Greek-American community without The National Herald,” he used to say, “is not possible.”
And when he disagreed with what we printed, he would call me to tell me and explain to me why he disagreed, always with a smile in his voice, with kindness. He was almost always right.
He once wrote a harsh, but fair and caring article about the course our Archdiocese was on. “Will you publish it?” he asked me. “Of course,” I replied. “They will go after you,” he told me with a laugh. “Don’t worry,” I said to him.
If I had not published it, I would have harmed the community by depriving it of a serious article from a thoughtful, courageous Greek-American who was pained by what was happening and wanted to address it.
After its publication, he called me happily. “You cannot imagine,” he told me, “how many people from all over America called to tell me about the article. Most agree – not all,” he continued.
This is how democracy works. That is the right role for the media.
Peter believed so much in the mission of the newspaper that he paid for 10 subscriptions each year for his relatives and friends, because he wanted them to be informed, to know the news of Hellenism.
He was indeed a necessary Greek-American and a valuable friend.
I saw him for the last time when I visited the late Senator Sarbanes as Deputy Foreign Minister with Responsibility for Hellenes Abroad.
“We need you in the Community more,” he told me.
May his memory be eternal.