George P. Coutros, 83, restaurateur did good deeds

August 19, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

George P. Coutros, a retired Baltimore restaurant owner who lived the Greek proverb of "doing something good and throwing it overboard," died Wednesday of cardiac arrest at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 83.

It was a karmic philosophy -- that if you do something good without seeking reward, good will come back to you -- and he heeded it nearly all his life.

Mr. Coutros built a swimming pool for handicapped children on the grounds of his Brooklyn restaurant, brought sports stars from the Colts and Orioles to parties he threw for children in his neighborhood and volunteered at schools serving children with special needs.

In 1978, he received a brotherhood award from the Maryland Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his work with disabled and disadvantaged children. Upon receiving the honor, he explained to The Sun that he tried to "do something good and throw it overboard."

The good deed always comes back to you, he said.

Mr. Coutros was born in New York City in 1913. His father took the family back to Greece to live when George was 6 and he grew up in Sparta, working in his father's general store and coffeehouse. He went to school in his spare time and joined the Greek army in 1931.

The family returned to the United States in 1938. Mr. Coutros worked in local restaurants until he and a partner amassed enough money to open the Francis Scott Key restaurant near the current site of the Maryland Science Center.

The meeting hall in the restaurant's basement became a gathering place for old hands and aspirants in the political game, drawing such forceful personalities as Gov. William Preston Lane and Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. after World War II, according to Peter Coutros, a son who lives in Ellicott City.

After rupturing a disc in his back, Mr. Coutros sold his share of the restaurant in 1956 and underwent surgery. Two years later, he opened Club 4100 in the basement of his house at 4118 Fourth St. in Brooklyn. Club 4100 diners delighted in seeing Mr. Coutros attending tables, offering free Greek meatballs and cheese or juggling bottles.

Mr. Coutros' surgery sparked his interest in disabled children, and the swimming pool resulted from talks he had with friends who worked for the Easter Seal Society. His annual Easter party for neighborhood children was held with help from the Lions and Optimist clubs and continued after he sold the restaurant in Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Maryland Avenue and Preston Street in Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife, Voula; a son, William G. Coutros of Lisbon; a brother, John Coutros of Dover, Pa.; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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