Christopher Pozoulakis, a longtime produce merchant and parking lot attendant in Highlandtown, died of a heart attack Friday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. He was 84.
Born to Greek immigrants in Clarksburg, W.Va., Mr. Pozoulakis moved to Baltimore in 1940 with little more than an eighth-grade education.
"He started with nothing," said his son Martin Pozoulakis of Ellicott City.
In 1941, Mr. Pozoulakis worked several jobs: as a truck driver for a Baltimore bottling company and a produce operation, and as a welder at Bethlehem Steel. An allergic reaction to metal scrapped the steel job, and World War II soon interrupted his other work.
In 1942 he began courting a young woman who would become his wife. Millie J. Pozoulakis said they both knew after only a couple of dates that they were perfect for one another.
"I went out with him two times when he asked me to marry him," Mrs. Pozoulakis said.
They married on March 7, 1942.
The next year, he was drafted into the Army to serve in World War II. But he was quickly granted an honorable discharge because his wife was too ill at the time to be the sole caregiver for their first son, said Martin Pozoulakis.
Upon returning to Baltimore, Mr. Pozoulakis continued to drive for the produce business but soon broke off to start his own one-man delivery business, Chris' Produce.
He got his start by relying on business from restaurants owned by fellow Greek-Americans. For years as a solo operator, he would carry sacks of potatoes on his shoulders into the basements of restaurants throughout the city.
Mr. Pozoulakis eventually changed the name of his business to Evergreen Produce Co. as it grew into a fleet of eight trucks and expanded its client base to include restaurants in Annapolis.
He sold the business in 1983 and began to invest in real estate. First he bought a house across from his Cambridge Street home for one of his sons, Gus Pozoulakis, now of Essex. He also purchased a Thames Street commercial property to house the Fells Point Automotive business run by his other son, Phillip Pozoulakis of Rosedale.
He bought the property so his son could stop paying rent at his business' previous Fells Point location, Martin Pozoulakis said. He also bought and operated a tow truck to help his son succeed.
"He was the most generous man, who would help you any way he could," Martin Pozoulakis said.
The automotive repair shop ran into trouble in 1990 when the city sought to seize it to make way for development. The city did not want to pay more than what Mr. Pozoulakis spent for the property, Martin Pozoulakis said. After a legal challenge, Mr. Pozoulakis prevailed with a small profit.
The settlement with the city altered his plans to use the business and the property to finance his retirement, forcing Mr. Pozoulakis to find a new job in 1991 at age 69. "I asked him when he was going to retire, and he said, 'When I'm old,'" Martin Pozoulakis said.
After the court battle, Mr. Pozoulakis, armed with a tray of Greek cookies and his pride at having owned his own business for 42 years, asked for work at a bank on Eastern Avenue.
The bank called a day later and offered him a job as a parking lot attendant at Eastern and Highland avenues.
He parked and watched cars at the lot for nearly 15 years, becoming a well-known fixture for his daily pigeon-feeding routine. "He worked every day," his wife said. She said he even drove to the lot on weekends to make sure the pigeons were fed.
A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Greek Orthodox Cemetery Chapel on Windsor Mill Road in Woodlawn.
In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Pozoulakis is survived by a brother, George Pozoulakis of Baltimore; a sister, Mary Eleftheriou of Westminster; eight grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandson; and a great-great-great-grandson.