George H. Pappas

[ Age 88 ] World War II bomber pilot, president of food supply business

October 13, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

George Harry Pappas, retired president of a business that supplied food to hotels, restaurants and department stores and decorated World War II pilot, died of heart disease complications Sunday at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson. He was 88.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Liberty Heights Avenue, Mr. Pappas was a 1936 graduate of McDonogh School, where he played varsity football, rode horses and wrestled.

He was a childhood friend of Spiro T. Agnew, was a guest at his 1969 inauguration as vice president and dined at his residence.

Mr. Pappas attended the University of Maryland, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity. In his junior year, he left and became a pilot in the Army's Air Corps. He flew B-24 Liberator bombers on 31 missions over Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland and Romania, where he attacked the Ploesti oil fields that were a fuel source of the Axis Powers.

A sergeant, he led the 454th Bomber Group and twice served as a wing leader. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Presidential Group Medal. He attended annual reunions of his group until last year.

"On our first date, he took me up for a plane ride, and we flew over my mother's house in Forest Park," said his wife of 59 years, the former Louise "Fi" Nicholson. "He owned a plane with two other fellows, but after we married, he gave up the plane. My mother wasn't too keen on his flying."

After the war, he joined a sister and two brothers to manage and expand his family's WB&A Restaurants, a chain of railroad and bus station lunchrooms in Washington, Annapolis, Glen Burnie and Baltimore - the latter now the site of the downtown Holiday Inn. The restaurants were located in the depots of an old electric interurban railroad whose route the light rail line partially follows.

He was president of Atlas Supply Co., an institutional food services business on South Central Avenue, where he retired in 1982, and a partner in the family-owned H.G. Pappas and Sons commercial real estate firm. The food supply business is now a luxury condominium known as Canal Street Malt House.

Services were held Tuesday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, where he was a lifelong member and president.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Harry G. Pappas of Towson; two daughters, Amalia Lucas of Towson and Stephanie McDonald of Orlando, Fla.; a brother, Harry P. Pappas of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

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