By Elizabeth Bonin, Staff Writer
(August 1, 2019) From selling Christmas trees, to buying and selling successful restaurants and night clubs, to creating Florida’s first “medical mall” to founding the White Marlin Open, Pete Boinis has accomplished enough for several lifetimes.
His friend and attorney, Dale Cathell, a local author who has published four other books on local notables and history, was so impressed that he decided to write about Boinis’ life story in “Pete the Greek.”
Cathell will hold a book signing on Aug. 7 at the White Marlin Club at 5:30 p.m. He will hold another on Aug. 8 at the Full Moon Saloon at 5 p.m. Boinis plans to attend both events. The 208-page book will be for sale at both events at a discount price for $30. Normally $34.95, books will also be available at the Hallmark store at the Marlin Mall, the Greyhound bookstore in Berlin, Amazon and, in the future, Barnes & Noble. It can also be purchased on Kindle.
“His biggest fame was as a fisherman,” Cathell said. “But I wanted to tell his life story, and there was a lot more to his life story than fishing.”
Boinis’ father, John, came through Ellis Island from Greece. He almost didn’t make it over – John’s father forgot to meet him at Ellis Island and John was almost sent back to Greece. After a three days, Boinis’ grandfather picked up John, and he eventually met Boinis’ mother, Evelyn. The couple had four children.
Boinis played football for the University of Maryland and says he would have played professionally if he hadn’t suffered an injury at the start of his senior year. After graduation, he sold Christmas trees on the street corners of Washington, D.C. Then a fellow Maryland alum connected Boinis with the Xerox corporation.
“Out of 60 applicants, it wasn’t because I was the best, it was because I knew somebody that was very powerful,” Boinis said. ”They got me this job and I sold the first five machines in history to the Xerox corporation. I made a big commission, bought a Cadillac car and put a Xerox on my license tag.”
In the middle of the book, Cathell details all the successful restaurants, bars and nightclubs Boinis opened. Some include The Ship’s Café, the first Carousel night club, the Galley and Hunka Munka, all in Ocean City. He also opened businesses in D.C. and south Florida.
Cathell said that when Boinis wanted to open Bastille, a night club in Baltimore, he didn’t have the money to fund the project. To get the money, Boinis asked two friends, Ulysses G. Auger, known as “Blackie,” and Nick Antonelli to contribute half a million dollars. They agreed.
“He had guts,” Cathell said. “He was willing to go the extra step.”
In addition to his night life ventures, Boinis opened a medical center in Florida.
“I got the idea for a medical mall – get all the doctors in one place rather than go all over town,” Boinis said.
Instead of getting referred to one medical office to another, Boinis is happy that the medical center can be as simple as one stop. The center has everything from cancer treatment, imaging centers, internal medicine doctors and OBGYNs.
According to Cathell, Boinis created at least 1,390 jobs and contributed $200 million to the U.S. economy. His business ventures brought in great wealth and Cathell praises Boinis for his generosity with that wealth. Boinis joined Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, to help the Children’s Home Society, an orphanage in Florida.
According to Cathell, Boinis asked the orphanage to have the children write Christmas wish list letters to Boinis.
“Whatever the kid wanted, from Playstations to bicycles, they got it,” Cathell said.
Boinis held a Christmas party for more than 200 of those children. He raised money for the orphanage through a celebrity golf tournament. Boinis is also paying for several college students’ tuition. These students have worked for Boinis’ restaurants and could not afford college tuition otherwise.
Boinis attributes his generosity to his mother.
“She never bought a thing for herself, only for her children,” Boinis said.
Cathell said the last fourth of his book is about Boinis’ deep sea fishing success. In 1981, he was named the fourth best big game fisherman in the world by the International Game Fish Association.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, North Carolina, gave Pete the idea for starting his own tournament. He wanted to have his own cash prize tournament at his 70-boat marina. Boinis created the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, which he credits as being the largest fishing tournament in the world and one of his most important accomplishments. There are no qualifications to compete, aside from the entry fee.
“That’s what made the tournament successful – everybody could compete in it.”
He enjoys that the tournament is more about luck than skill. The winner catches the biggest marlin, rather than the most.
To Boinis, the book about his life is not personally important.
“It’s about an immigrant that came here and the things you can achieve if you’re a hard-working person,” Boinis said.
He finds it important to have honesty and integrity – and to practice them. Boinis is now looking forward to enjoying his retirement at his home in North Carolina.
Cathell hopes to have two more book signings in the fall – one at the Hallmark store at the Marlin Mall and at the Greyhound book store in Berlin. Times and dates are not yet confirmed.
For more information about the book signing, call the Marlin Club at 410-213-1613 and the Full Moon Saloon at 443-664-5317.