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With a song in his heart


Everyone who knows Steve Geppi knows he's something of a showman, an entertaining guy who breaks into song at the slightest provocation. Though he's chairman and founder of Diamond Comics Distributors, owner and publisher of Baltimore Magazine and a minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Steve is perhaps best known for his singing among his family and friends.

At his wedding to longtime companion Mindy Stout July 8, Steve sang what was likely the most important song of his life. In a moment that hadn't been rehearsed or listed in the ceremony program, he recited traditional wedding vows and then grasped Mindy's hands and broke into song.

"This is the moment I've waited for," he crooned, his eyes fixed on Mindy. Swaying gently, his voice unaccompanied and full of emotion, he sang, "I will love you longer than forever. Promise me you will leave me never."

With each verse, Steve's voice grew stronger, and the words soared to the ceiling of Second Presbyterian Church in Guilford.

"I do love you with all my heart," he sang, and as the last notes of "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" faded away, more than 300 guests, including many Baltimore celebrities, broke into thunderous applause. But it was obvious from the way Steve continued to look at Mindy that hers was the only approval that mattered.

Steve, 50, likes having the spotlight turned his way, but he is also thoughtful and romantic, Mindy, 35, says -- a man who attends to the little details that remind her just how much he cares.

For her recent bridal shower, for example, he sent roses: seven yellow blooms and eight red ones to symbolize the couple's wedding month and day. He also presented Mindy with a gold necklace and charm bearing her new monogram.

At their wedding ceremony, after Mindy said her vows and she and Steve exchanged rings, the couple turned their focus to their daughter Breanna. The 11-year-old was her mother's maid of honor.

In another unscripted moment, Steve and Mindy presented Breanna with a heart-shaped locket that held photos of her parents.

Breanna was part of the couple's motivation for marrying after nearly a dozen years together. "She wanted me to have the same last name as her and Daddy," Mindy explains.

Mindy and Steve met in 1986 when she was hired by Diamond Comics Distributors. The Baltimore-based firm is successful now, but back then the company was just getting started.

Those were the days when Steve and Mindy, who grew up in Catonsville, were just Orioles fans, not owners, and when Steve was only a few years removed from his job with the U.S. Postal Service. Back then, their social schedule was mostly evenings with boyhood friends from Little Italy, where Steve spent his childhood.

And although they've met President Clinton and visited places they had seen previously only in travel brochures, Steve and Mindy say they've worked hard not to let success change them or their relationship.

"It's a matter of remembering who you are and not losing your roots," Steve says. "The nicest thing people will say to me is that I haven't changed. It's a compliment I take very seriously.

"What's good about Mindy," he adds, "is that she can fit into both atmospheres. [She'll go to] the black-tie parties and she'll hang out with me until 2 in the morning in Little Italy."

Besides family and longtime friends, guests at the wedding reception at the Grand Lodge at Bonnie Blink included Orioles announcer Chuck Thompson, retired broadcaster and fellow Orioles minority owner Jim McKay, game-show host and Maryland resident Pat Sajak and former Baltimore Colts football player and local celebrity Art Donovan.

Wedding attendants included Steve's brother Mike, Mindy's sisters Laura Heuer and Carrie Petersen as well as former Orioles Chris Hoiles and Jim Gentile and their respective wives, Dana and Paula.

As the party got under way, the singer with the band crooned, "I'll always love you, for the rest of my days." Steve, grinning widely, sang the same words to Mindy as they danced.

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