James E. Pappas, a country club manager who spent his career in the hospitality industry, died Wednesday of cancer at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Glen Arm resident was 56.
Born James E. Papademetriou in Baltimore and raised on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, he was a 1968 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he played football. He earned a business degree at University of Baltimore.
As a young man, he worked alongside his father, Emanuel "Manny" Papademetriou, who managed restaurants in the Gino's fast-food chain, which was started by Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti. The younger Mr. Papademetriou, who changed his name to Pappas, was soon a manager and ran Gino's-Roy Rogers-KFC operations in eastern Baltimore County, among other locations. He also worked with the Marriott Corp. after it purchased the Gino's brand. He then became executive vice president of caterer La Fontaine Bleu and ran its operations in Northeast Baltimore, Glen Burnie and Lanham.
"He was ideal for the hospitality industry and club management. Nobody could plan a party like Jim," said his brother, George Papademetriou Pappas of Forest Hill. "In the disco era of the 1970s, he was an unbelievable dancer at the Latin Casino and the Club Venus. But he also knew wine. He knew food. He was a workaholic who wanted to make people happy."
About 15 years ago, he became general manager of Chestnut Ridge Country Club in Lutherville and held the post until stepping down in November because of ill health.
"He was always the life of the party. He had a big smile. He was a mentor and a leader to young managers coming up," said Mitchell Platt, general manager of Woodholme County Club. "
He recalled Mr. Pappas' philosophy regarding food and drink.
"He would not throw some frou-frou gourmet item on the menu because it was a fad," Mr. Platt said. "He would put food on the menu he thought people would enjoy and add to the overall social element of the evening. He felt food was a part of life."
He was a past president of the Greater Baltimore chapter of the Club Managers Association of America.
"Jim was really the dean of club managers in Baltimore," said Michael Shilling, president of Chestnut Ridge Country Club.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Grace Fellowship Church, 9595 Deereco Road in Timonium, where he was a member. He was a former member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 19 years, the former Teri Campbell; two daughters, Anastasia Papademetriou and Alexandra Papademetriou, both of Glen Arm; his mother, Pauline Papademetriou of Essex; and three sisters, Maria Papademetriou and Stella Papademetriou-Padbury, both of Orcas Island, Wash., and Anastasia Papademetriou-Rajewski of Churchville. A stepson, Kevin Auchter, died in 2000.