Peter J. Gianaris, 73, a noted Washington bookmaker and a man who was valued not only for his knowledge of gambling but also for his discretion and his kindnesses, died June 30 at the home of his daughter in Wheaton after a heart attack.
Mr. Gianaris' clients included doctors, lawyers and newspapermen, but he never divulged their identities. This was one of the main reasons they kept coming back.
Indeed, many of these prominent figures wrote letters on his behalf when he went before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey on Dec. 28, 1977, on charges of running a gambling operation at his home on M Street NW in Georgetown. Their names were carefully kept out of the public court record. But their views on the man were clear: he had "a heart of gold," he was "full of kindness and compassion," and he was integrity itself.
One writer recalled that Mr. Gianaris used to visit an orphanage where the kids called him "Peter Rabbit . . . obviously reciprocating his warmth and attention and love for them."
The prosecutor, assistant U.S. attorney Peter O. Muellers, said Mr. Gianaris was a "classic recidivist." He pointed out that the defendant was before the court on his seventh conviction in a record that went back to 1938 and that he was on probation for an earlier offense when he was arrested. At the time, his "book" was handling $100,000 a week in bets on sporting events.
But Mueller added: "Surely there is good and bad in all of us."
Judge Richey sentenced Mr. Gianaris to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, then suspended all but six months of the prison term. He also ordered him to perform 200 hours of community work when he was released from jail.
"I think it's fair," Mr. Gianaris commented. "I'm glad it's over with."
Mr. Gianaris was a native of Savannah, Ga., and grew up in Washington. He operated Alex Ltd., an import-export company, from the mid-1970s until about a year ago, when he retired for reasons of health and moved to Wheaton. He had suffered from diabetes and cancer.
He was a member of the Touchdown Club, the Elks Club and the American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.
His marriage to Mary Gianaris ended in divorce.
Survivors include two children, John Peter Gianaris of Fredericksburg, Va., and Helen Thornberg of Wheaton; one brother, Spiro Gianaris of Washington, and five grandchildren.
RUTH B. SIMKOWITZ, 72, the cofounder of a Washington costume company and a past president of the Women's Argo Chapter of B'nai B'rith, died June 30 at Sibley Memorial Hospital after a heart attack.
Mrs. Simkowitz, a resident of Chevy Chase, was born in Alexandria. She graduated from Mount Vernon High School and earned a law degree at the old National Law School, now part of George Washington University.
In 1953, she and her husband, Nathan Simkowitz, founded the Ronna Costumers, a company that rents costumes for parties, theatrical productions and similar events. She was vice president of the firm when she retired in 1982.
In addition to her husband, of Chevy Chase, survivors include two children, Cynthia R. Simkowitz of Chevy Chase and Loren M. Simkowitz of Kensington, and one grandchild.
ANNELLE ROSALIE THACH, 72, a former elementary school teacher, died June 30 at Fairfax Hospital of complications following heart surgery.
Mrs. Thach, a resident of Annandale, was born in Holmdel Township, N.J. She attended Columbia University and graduated from Monmouth College. She had done graduate work at Newark State College.
Before moving to the Washington area in 1977, Mrs. Thach had been a teacher in New Jersey. In this area, she had taught at Queen of Apostles elementary school in Alexandria before she retired in 1984. She had written articles on the teaching of reading in professional journals.
She was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America and the Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria.
Survivors include her husband, Joseph E. Thach Sr., and a son, Dr. Joseph E. Thach Jr., both of Annandale.
HELEN S. BROWN, 82, a former nurse and a resident of Washington since 1930, died of cancer June 30 at the Carriage Hill nursing home in Silver Spring.
Mrs. Brown was born in Sugartown, Pa. She studied nursing at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. She was a nurse there and in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic before moving to Washington.
During World War II she was active in organizations that sold war bonds here.
Her husband, Dr. Leo T. Brown, died in 1965.
Survivors include two sons, Henry C. Brown of Great Falls and Peter M. Brown of Washington; four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
RUTH B. BALDWIN, 88, who in 1977 received an award for her contributions to the Republican Party in Prince George's County and who was a former choir director at the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, died July 1 at the Pleasant Living Convalescent Center in Edgewater, Md., after a stroke.
Mrs. Baldwin was born in Berwin in Prince George's County and lived in Hyattsville until moving to Edgewater in 1983.
She was a past member of the University Park Women's Republican Club and the National Republican Club and a member of the Leland Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
Her husband, Virgil G. Baldwin, died in 1950.
Survivors include three children, Robert D. Baldwin of Alexandria, Richard G. Baldwin of Mayo, Md., and Russell Y. Baldwin of Riva, Md.; a sister, Mary Wilson of College Heights Estates, Md.; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
ESTHER WOOD BRADY, 81, the author of nine children's books and a Washington resident since 1958, died of cancer June 30 at Carriage Hill nursing home in Bethesda.
Mrs. Brady's books included two recently published historical novels, "The Toad On Capitol Hill," about the burning of Washington by the British in 1814, and "Toliver's Secret," about espionage during the British occupation of New York City during the American Revolution.
As a young woman, Mrs. Brady traveled to China, Japan and the Philippines, and she wrote three books about children in the Orient.
She was born in Akron, N.Y., attended Denison University in Ohio and the University of Rochester in New York and graduated from Boston University. She lived in Montclair, N.J., before moving to Washington.
Mrs. Brady was a member of the Washington Children's Book Guild, the Washington Junior League, the National Presbyterian Church and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She had been a volunteer teacher of remedial reading in Washington's public schools.
Her husband, George W. Wood, died in 1986.
Survivors include two daughters, Caroline Brady of New York City and Barbara Brady Beeker of Kensington, and one grandson.