"He seemed to have the instincts for what people wanted. He was always the first to do things, no matter what the promotion was," Mr. Steele said.
He remembered the night in 1969 when Flip Wilson sneezed and pulled a muscle in his back, rendering him unable to perform.
"I asked Mike if he wanted me to tell the audience that the show was canceled and he said, 'No, I'll take care of this,'" Mr. Steele recalled.
"He went on the stage and told them what happened and that he would refund their money. Nobody got angry, and after his five-minute explanation they were ready to give him a standing ovation," he said. "He was so good he could have been a politician, but I am glad he did what he did."
The longtime Lutherville resident was an active member of Baltimore's Greek community. He was a member of the board of the Greektown Community Development Corp., and he had been president of AHEPA, a Greek philanthropic organization, and had chaired the organization's scholarship committee.
"Mike was heavily involved in the establishment of the AHEPA senior living complex in Canton," Mr. Moniodis said.
Mr. Athas was an avid card player, bowler and golfer.
"We had a weekly card game in an upstairs conference room at the Double-T Diner in Catonsville," said Mr. Moniodis. "He was my pinochle partner and a good one."
Mr. Athas was an active member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at his church, 2504 Cub Hill Road in Parkville.
In addition to his son, Mr. Athas is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, the former Soula Peters; another son, Dr. John M. Athas of New York City; and four grandchildren.