2005-10-21 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter Forensically Speaking With PHC Honoree George Greco

With Beverly Baxter
Forensically Speaking With PHC Honoree George Greco

BEVERLY BAXTERBEVERLY BAXTER  This year, as Peninsula Hospital Center celebrates the occasion of its 98th annual Anniversary Ball at The Sands in Atlantic Beach, among its roster of honorees is a man whom I have come to know and be truly awed by. I first met George Greco several years ago at a fete to benefit our St. Patrick’s Day Parade. His friend Joe Mure was among our honorees that year; and George, along with several comrades from his newly formed Republican Club, was in attendance. Since we shared a similar political ideology, we were introduced. I must say, it was hardly a mild introduction where you exchange appropriate niceties. In fact, I remember being rather startled by his forward familiarity and the fact that he seemed to know more about me, my life, the history of my family’s company...aspects of my life that I don’t recall ever sharing, nor would I find these details very interesting. That’s the thing about George. Meeting him is like meeting a very warm and friendly pit bull! The breed sidles up and befriends you! You simply have no choice in the matter.

 There are many words to describe George Greco; however, mediocrity is not one of them. The word isn’t even in his workaday vernacular. To be befriended by George is a forensic experience, comparable to being placed under a microscope! In all his dealings, he is relentlessly curious and illuminates the most remote corners, places where most would neither dare nor have interest to go. He gets underneath his subject of interest and seeps into the nooks and crannies. That’s where you’ll find him. Joe Mure describes his friend this way, “George is a great family man, a hard worker, and a man of admirable integrity. When he gives you his word or sets out to accomplish something, he never disappoints. He always prevails.”

 Another quality about George is that he seems to know how to make the world work his way. Most people who are in their own business have this kind of determined verve. Their earthy and spontaneous orchestration of their professional life carries over into all their endeavors. He knows how to make things happen. However, in a dizzying fashion, he has, like a masterful Chef, many pots simmering on the stove and his greatest pleasure is derived by stirring all the pots! People are the main ingredient in his sauce called life. Getting to the bottom and bringing things to the top, ridding the pot of unsavory ingredients, causing a stir and deriving pleasure from constantly striving to effectuate positive change. These are the “Greco-isms” that best describe his life’s credo. This was the impetus for his founding of the Rockaway Republicans, a group of middle-aged men who got together in George’s garage to smoke cigars, drink great wine, and talk political shop. As they began to meet regularly, their membership grew; and thus, the club now boasts a membership of several hundred participants who meet at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, sans the smoke and wine!

When he is not stirring the political pot or busy igniting fuses along the way, George is a loyal friend and generous host. Whether he is holding court at his home in Neponsit, where he has been known to help out his neighbor, an Attorney, by casually summoning a few friends over to his garage to serve as an impromptu mach jury; or at Tiro A Segno (The New York Rifle Club), of which he is an esteemed member, where his guests are graciously treated to wonderful evenings of great fare, exhilarating conversation; and oh yes, all of those inimitable “Greco-isms”! Like the maestro conductor of a symphony, George has this keen talent for knowing which instruments sound well when played together. In another era, he could have been the host of Artisans in a Parisian salon or Greenwich Village cafe. He has this uncanny ability of mixing people well, these ingredients in his sauce; entertaining an eclectic group of movers and shakers from the upper echelons of various professions. In one evening, he played host to non-English speaking Chinese General, his Columbia University Interpreter, a V.P. of an internationally renowned construction organization, a Judge, an Immigration official, and a principal of a building material supply company; and like the masterful impresario, only George could strike a common cord among his guests. He is like a Curator of people with a collection that is legendary!

Born George Louis Greco, the youngest of three siblings, George hails from the Good Shepherd Parish of Marine Park, Brooklyn. He graduated from Xaverian High School and Wagner College. Upon graduation, he spent a year abroad in Austria before joining the family-held business, Midhattan Woodworking Corporation, a 72-year-old firm founded by his grandfather. While he was the “boss’s son” and heir apparent to a thriving business, he was put through his paces. His father instilled in him a strong work ethic, as well as the spirit of giving back to one’s community. George apprenticed for a year, learning the ropes regarding all aspects of labor. In addition to being a principal owner of Midhattan Woodworking Corp., George serves as trustee of the Benefits Fund for the New York City District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America. 

George’s initial passion was, and still is, the game of Football; and while he was tough enough, he was not genetically endowed with being tall enough and his parents entertained thoughts that he may become a Jockey! Although an early football injury dashed most of his athletic aspirations, he coached the game for 12 years and soon discovered another discipline that would pique his interest. Physical Therapy sessions that included a rigorous regimen of Ballet classes introduced him to his passion for Dance. George Greco in tights and “on toe”? Yes, he’s that confident! Always curious and tenaciously optimistic, George has a contagious and admirable joie de vivre—perhaps this is the quality that captivates and endears most. His current mission is his crusade against the “Fuggetaboutit” signs along the Belt Parkway and B.Q.E. which he finds, as an American of Italian descent, personally offensive. If you know George; or rather, if you’ve ever experienced George, then there should be no doubt in one’s mind that these signs will inevitably come down! Until they do, you, me, and every political entity from Rockaway to City Hall will continue to hear about it!

Among George’s many philanthropic endeavors is his position as Board Member to the Tri-State Italian American Congress, a not-for-profit organization that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year offering scholarships to promising students who wish to attend parochial elementary and high schools. 

However, it is George’s enduring generosity and commitment to Peninsula Hospital Center; and as trustee, his rendering of substantial endowments which further enhance the community’s access to medical and technological advancements, that we will celebrate and honor him as “Outstanding Trustee of the Year” at PHC’s annual Ball on October 29th. George Greco will be joined by Dr. Stephen Marcus, a revered Orthopedic Surgeon; and Joseph Mure, a renowned Defense Attorney and Chairman of the Brooklyn Queens Chapter of The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, who are among the evening’s distinguished honorees. Congratulations!   

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