Plato Thomas Pappas, a retired salesman who was active in the Masons and in church theatrical productions, died Thursday from complications of a fall he suffered in December. The Towson resident was 86.
Born in Manchester, N.H., he was the son of Theofanis and Kaliope Konides Papanastasiou; the family name was later changed to Pappas.
Mr. Pappas, who was known as Tom as well as Plato, was a 1948 graduate of Lowell High School. After high school he joined the Navy and served in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean.
After moving to Baltimore, he received a degree in business management from the University of Baltimore, where he later attended law school. He was features editor for the student newspaper and was active in the student council.
He met his future wife, Helen Popomaronis, at a Greek Orthodox church function. She became an executive secretary for members of the Hecht family and had a career at T. Rowe Price.
Mr. Pappas became an administrator for the Glenn L. Martin aircraft company and worked on the missile and rocket projects, including the Gemini space program. He later worked in radar at the Westinghouse Defense and Space Center in Linthicum, then was president and co-owner of a moving and storage company, William T. Geipe in Ellicott City.
Mr. Pappas retired in 1996 as district manager for J.A. Sexauer, Inc., a wholesale plumbing and heating supply firm where he won sales awards.
"He lit up every room he ever walked in," said his son, Dean T. Pappas of Edgewater. "He was a superb confidant and adviser to my family, and was the epitome of optimism and positive thinking."
His son described his father's career. "He flourished in the sales world. He loved people. It was his passion. He loved going to work every day — including Mondays. On Sunday nights he couldn't wait until Monday morning," his son said.
He enjoyed traditional Maryland fare, oysters and crabs, and skordalia, a Greek garlic spread.
"He always had a joke," his son said.
After living in Ocean City for nearly 15 years, Mr. Pappas returned to Towson in 2010.
He belonged to the Masons and was a member of Sincerity Lodge No. 181, the Scottish Rite and the Boumi Temple. While living in Ocean City, he was a member the Shrine Club and of St. George's Greek Orthodox Church.
A baritone, he sang in the choir at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Baltimore and at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Parkville. He also performed at Masonic events.
He was a founding member of St. Demetrios and belonged to its Suburban Players. He performed the role of Lazar Wolf in "Fiddler on the Roof," and had roles in other productions. He also played the part of a Greek merchant seaman in Barry Levinson's movie "Diner," appearing in two scenes.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2504 Cub Hill Road in Parkville.
In addition to his son and his wife of 60 years, survivors include two daughters, Vanessa Pappas Petrini of Edgewater and Christina Pappas Everard of Lumberton, N.J.; and five grandchildren.