Evan Alevizatos Chriss, a retired attorney and law firm founder, died of heart failure during a collapse while exercising Monday at the Blakehurst Retirement Community. The former Ruxton resident was 93.
Born Evangelos Christ Alevizatos in Baltimore and raised in Waverly, he was the son of Christ E. Alevizatos and Chrissie Joannides, who were the founders of the old Mount Vernon restaurant in the 900 block of N. Charles St. He worked behind its cash register counter while he was a student.
"I took cash, mixed drinks, made sandwiches, dipped ice cream," he said in a 1984 Sun article.
Mr. Chriss, a 1938 City College graduate, earned a bachelor's degree in commerce at Washington and Lee University. He enlisted in the Navy and commanded an amphibious landing craft in New Guinea in the Pacific during World War II. He left military service in 1946 as a lieutenant senior grade.
Family members said his father wanted him to go into the professions and he chose law. He earned a degree at the University of Maryland School of Law and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1948.
He was an associate of Judge Simon E. Sobeloff, who became the U.S. solicitor general. The judge suggested he shorten his name. He reversed and modified it to Evan A. Chriss, although he listed his given name in the phone book for many years.
He was a 1953 founder and partner at Gordon, Feinblatt & Rothman, a downtown Baltimore law firm. He headed the firm's trusts and estates section. He was also the firm's managing partner from 1953 to 1980. He played a role in his firm's moving to and later acquiring the Robert Garrett & Sons Building at Redwood and South streets.
"He was a wonderful partner and a wonderful man," said Barry Rosen, chairman and chief executive officer of Gordon Feinblatt. "As the managing partner, he sometimes had to be stern with our lawyers. But outside these offices, he was known as Uncle Buddy, a man who gave out silver dollars to children."
He served on the executive committee of the Baltimore City Bar Association and on the character committee of the Maryland Court of Appeals. He was elected a 1976 fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He was chair of the trust and estate section of the Maryland State Bar Association.
He wrote and lectured in professional journals. As his field changed in the 1970s, he became involved in the general economics of law practice, including billable hours and business development.
He was a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, where he was a past president of the parish council and member of the International Order of St. Andrew.
He took an interest in the national leadership of his church. In 2004 Mr. Chriss was a leader in making recommendations to give the U.S. church a greater role in the selection of bishops and the archbishop. As a member of the Orthodox Christian Laity's advisory board, he advocated more domestic say to keep the church in touch with an increasingly assimilated American membership, he said in a Sun story.
"We are losing many of our young people," Mr. Chriss said. "Almost 80 percent of our marriages are interfaith. The future of the church depends on it becoming an indigenous, American church."
Mr. Chriss was profiled in The Sun in 1984. "He is a leader of his church, active in the affairs of the Greek community, an interested observer in the progress of his home town," the article said. "Baltimore was, by the standards of New York and Washington, a pretty dull place. 'There weren't many restaurants, weren't many places to go out, but Baltimore was all I knew,'" he was quoted as saying.
"He was a leader in our community and played an important role in the transition from the early immigrants to the more rooted Greeks in American society," said a friend, Peter Marudas of Baltimore. " He was a person of moderate and courteous temperament. He was respected and looked to for his wisdom. He was a devoted Greek Orthodox Christian and had roles in the local and national church circles."
Mr. Chriss was a past president of the Thornton Wood Association and the Kernewood Association.
He wrote numerous letters to The Sun on topics including the European Union, religion and Middle East politics.
He enjoyed world travel and regional cuisines. He was a member of the Wine and Food Society and the Center Club.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Chapel of the Holy Resurrection at the Greek Orthodox Cemetery, 5917 Windsor Mill Road.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Ceres Rogokos Chriss; sons, Timothy D.A. Chriss and Andrew J.A. Chriss, both of Baltimore; a brother, Dr. Aristides C. "Ted" Alevizatos of Lutherville; a sister, Chrysanthe A. Pappas of Towson; and four grandchildren.