Constantinos S. "Deno" Yenias, a construction manager for the Maryland Transit Administration who played a major role in the city's Greektown community, died March 24 of cancer at Franklin Square Medical Center. The Perry Hall resident was 67.
"Deno worked on virtually every major project the MTA ever built," said Frank S. Waesche III, former MTA chief engineer, who since 1998 has led construction services and utility engineering for the Hunt Valley engineering firm of Wallace Montgomery & Associates LLP.
"Deno was a bigger-than-life guy who was extremely effective in his work," said Mr. Waesche, who became acquainted with Mr. Yenias when they both were working on Section A of the Metro in 1980.
George J. Moniodis, a retired director of government affairs and public relations at St. Agnes Hospital, called Mr. Yenias "a great human being and a longtime friend."
"He was very proud of his Greek heritage, his wife and two sons," he said.
The son of Greek immigrants Steven Yenias and Mary Yenias, Constantinos Steven Yenias was born in Aliquippa, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. After his father's death, his family moved to Baltimore and settled in Greektown.
He graduated in 1966 from Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1971 from Pennsylvania State University. After several years living in Hawaii, Mr. Yenias returned to Baltimore and worked as a civil engineer for the local firms Sverdrup & Parcel and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
One of the major projects he worked on was the Fort McHenry Tunnel carrying Interstate 95 under the Baltimore harbor. It took five years to complete and opened to traffic in 1985.
"I was construction manager for the City of Baltimore when we were building the Fort McHenry Tunnel. I hired him in 1982 [and] put him in charge of the outfitting yard," said Ken Merrill, now assistant vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Since 1997, Mr. Yenias worked for the MTA as construction manager for major transit projects, including the Baltimore Metro extension and several light rail extensions to Penn Station, Hunt Valley and BWI Marshall Airport.
He also oversaw construction of the Light Rail Cultural Center on North Howard Street, Cromwell Maintenance Center and the MARC extension to Frederick that utilizes the CSX line. Other projects included the parking lot extension at MARC's West Baltimore Station and the new platforms at MARC's Halethorpe Station.
"He had a knack for solving problems over a cup of coffee," said Mr. Waesche. "He'd put a plate of doughnuts in the center of the table and get everyone around the table to work it out. He'd say, 'We're not leaving until we're all talking,' and by the end of the day, he had everyone on the same page."
"As a manager, Deno had concern for people and was loyal to them, that's what he brought to the table," said Mr. Merrill. "As an engineer, he always took the common-sense approach — which means you solve the little problems before they become big problems."
"He had friends wherever he went," said Mr. Waesche. "If you mentioned to him that you were going to do something, he knew a person there and he'd say, 'Tell 'em I sent you.'"
Col. John Gavrilis, chief of the MTA Police, had been friends with Mr. Yenias since they were both youngsters in Greektown.
"He excelled in stickball, football and lacrosse," Colonel Gavrilis wrote in an email. "Deno was a true Greek at heart. Being raised in Greektown, he had a love for the food, culture and traditions."
The major focus of Mr. Yenias' community work and philanthropy was Greektown, where he had been president of American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association's Senior Housing Corp., which developed the first Greek senior living community in Baltimore.
"I never saw such leadership. He undertook the task to get AHEPA House, for senior latchkey residents, at Clinton and Boston streets built," said Mr. Moniodis.
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"Deno was a man that, if a meeting got out of order, he was the one to smooth things over," said Mr. Moniodis. "He could get it back on track and was very good at motivating, leading and consoling people in need."
He served as president and was a member of the board of governors of AHEPA's Lord Baltimore Chapter, a nonprofit that promoted Hellenism and raised scholarship money for Greek youth. He was also secretary of the Greektown Community Development Corp., and served on the board of Buddies Inc., a group that supports the city police Explorers unit.
He was a member of St. John's Masonic Lodge and enjoyed playing golf. He was an avid Ravens, Orioles and Navy football fan. His two sons are Naval Academy graduates.
Services for Mr. Yenias, who was a member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 520 Ponca St., Baltimore, will be held at 11 a.m. March 31.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, the former Darlene Romeo; two sons, Stephen V. Yenias of Stuttgart, Germany, and Christopher P. Yenias of San Diego; a sister, Evelyn Lisowsky of Crownsville; and several nieces and nephews.