Longtime workers at H&S Bakery placed pink roses on the hearse holding John Paterakis Sr. as it passed by the company's corporate offices in Fells Point on Thursday morning.
Some wiped away tears, or held co-workers, as the funeral parade of five limousines led by police officers on motorcycles proceeded from the Four Seasons Hotel and wove around Harbor East to the H&S offices on South Caroline Street.
Paterakis who built H&S Bakery into the largest privately owned bakery in the country and redeveloped Harbor East, died Sunday of complications from myelodysplasia, a bone marrow disorder. He was 87.
The funeral services Thursday were private. The motorcade offered a chance for employees and others to say goodbye.
"I think today is going to be the hardest," said Tisha Payne, 40. She and others held large photos of Paterakis, dressed in a suit and sitting in his motor scooter in his office, or sitting at a table covered by a red-checkered tablecloth.
Payne and others described Paterakis as a caring boss, who made a point to greet each of his employees and shower them with generosity.
Payne, who lives in Baltimore County, said Paterakis affected the lives not only of his employees, but also the entire city through his redevelopment of Harbor East.
"It's rare you find someone who dedicates their life to the city," she said. "He really loved Baltimore."
Others spoke about his devotion to his employees, and how he made a point of making the holidays special.
Linda Maier, 62, has worked in accounts payable and payroll at H&S Bakery for 33 years. She said employees received wrapped gifts for Christmas, turkeys at Thanksgiving and steaks at the Fourth of July.
Maier, a Ravens fan, said Paterakis always made a point to talk to her about the team or their next game.
Robin Curran, 49, said women who had trouble with child care could bring their kids to work. When there was bad weather, they could get rides to work.
She and others said Paterakis could be heard singing old Greek songs his mother sang to him as a child. He could be seen smoking his cigars out of the office.
In later years, he relied on a scooter to get around. Employees said he remained dedicated to his work and still came into the office regularly, and signed all employee checks personally.
Theresa Carr, 48, also works in the accounts payable and payroll department.
"We got to see him every day," she said.
She remembers a day when he went to the hospital. He still returned to the office, and stopped in the break room to chat with employees.
Maier said he made a point to know every employee's name.
"He was a great man," she said. "He thought of his employees."
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