'A walking encyclopedia'

Marie Callas Mars remembered as bright, curious

Marie Callas Mars remembered as bright, curious

March 12, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD

Marie Callas Mars set the standard for her four younger brothers, Pete Callas, the only living sibling, said Wednesday, more than a week after his only sister's death.

Mars died Feb. 26. She was 86.

"She was an excellent student," Pete Callas, 80, said. Each year, when Pete would enter a new grade, his new teacher would ask him, "'Are you as nice and as bright as your sister and your brother Mike?'"

Pete's oldest brother, Mike Callas, the late philanthropist and former chairman of Callas Contractors Inc., graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1939, two years after Marie.

A stadium under construction at North Hagerstown High School was named in Mike Callas' honor.

Growing up, Marie and brothers Mike, Bill, Pete and Greg all worked as soda jerks at The Valencia, a popular soda fountain on North Potomac Street, which their father, George J. Callas, a Greek immigrant, managed.


Pete Callas said they would work there from the time they got off school at 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. "When we didn't have customers, we did our homework behind the counter," Pete Callas said.

About three years after graduating from high school, Marie married her first husband, Nicholas Mars, a Greek immigrant.

Her son, George Mars, 62, said their marriage was arranged and didn't last long. When George was about 10 years old, Marie Mars married Bob Jones, who was a C&P Telephone Co. traffic manager.

Both Nicholas Mars and Jones have since died. George Mars said his mother was married to Bob Jones for about eight years.

She retired from Maryland National Bank in Baltimore, where she worked for more than 20 years, George Mars said.

"She could tell you the credit history of anyone in Baltimore," he said with a laugh.

Marie Mars "was a walking encyclopedia," George Mars said. Even after his mother developed Alzheimer's disease, she still watched "Jeopardy" and "won every time," he said.

Marie was the only one of Pete's siblings who was born in New York City, where their father first lived after coming to the United States through Ellis Island in 1910, Pete Callas said.

While Marie was starting her new family, her four brothers went to serve in World War II, he said.

Pete Callas said it was a shame that Marie couldn't go to college because she loved school so much.

"All her friends were going to college, but we couldn't afford it," he said.

Marie "loved to play golf. She loved chess. She played piano and loved classical and nonclassical music," Pete Callas said.

On Saturday afternoons, Marie would listen to the Metropolitan Opera and then, at 5 p.m., the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

George Mars, who lives in a house where he lived with his mother as a child, said that as an adult, he traveled to Greece, England and France with his mother.

"She was very curious," he said.

George also served in the armed forces.

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