I have spent my entire career with Peter Angelos and I’m now about to retire after 58 years of law practice. I have been fortunate enough to be at his side throughout the entirety of the wild ride our careers experienced.

While I’ve been with him for the legal and business achievements, including the acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles, I’ve also been with him for his myriad contributions to the lives of Baltimoreans and Marylanders that few people will ever know about. He wanted it that way.

But with his passing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t use this opportunity to share just a few of the ways he helped institutions and individuals in our community, doing so anonymously.

He contributed millions to Baltimore hospitals, including Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and many others for research of pulmonary and other diseases associated with asbestos exposure.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Once, when the Druid Hill Park swimming pool was in such disrepair that it closed down, Angelos donated a sizable portion of the money needed to cover repair costs.

There was an occasion when a state trooper was killed in the line of duty during an undercover drug investigation. His official funeral was in Maryland, but a family dispute ensued, and the trooper’s widow sought to have him disinterred for family burial in Florida. Learning of this situation, Angelos paid all expenses after insisting that he receive no credit for this charitable gesture.

A couple of years after purchasing the Baltimore Orioles, he learned of the funeral of a fallen firefighter and offered the use of Camden Yards for the post-funeral reception. It was attended by more than 1,000 people, including firefighters from all over the East Coast. Angelos refused any payment for the significant cost of this event and insisted on no personal publicity.

His contributions to making lives better in his community started before he ever became wealthy. When he was a city councilman in the late 1950s, he helped lead efforts to force a Baltimore fast-food chain to allow Black customers to dine inside instead of only being served carryout orders.

His actions reflected the life of a man committed to helping workers and those in our community who were disadvantaged or who had been wronged or mistreated.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

When he was raised in East Baltimore, many of his childhood friends became steelworkers and members of the Baltimore building and construction trades. Accordingly, our practice mainly consisted of representing unionized workers in personal injury and criminal cases.

From the start of his practice, Angelos was counsel to the unions representing meat cutters and the Baltimore Building Trades Council. He worked on behalf of associated unions representing ironworkers, steamfitters, electricians and other trades.

Angelos’ brilliance as an attorney was recognized by these organizations, and we slowly grew into a larger law firm. This culminated, in the years that followed, with Angelos becoming a pioneer in the then-emerging field of asbestos litigation.

Many victims of asbestos-related diseases were steelworkers and construction workers, so officers and members of those unions asked Angelos to participate in that litigation. He did not originally want to, as he said to me and others.

“I don’t want to be in a position where I’m telling clients that they have a disease for which there is no cure, and in many cases, will leave them significantly impaired or take their lives,” he said in one correspondence.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But the union leaders were persistent. Angelos began taking the cases after finding that many of the law firms that took on the asbestos litigation chose to cherry-pick the cases, taking only the most serious ones and leaving the bulk of the victims unrepresented. Angelos believed he had no choice but to provide the opportunity for all victims of this awful disease to obtain representation.

Angelos hired me in early 1966, after I graduated in 1965 from the University of Baltimore Law School, which was also his alma mater. Like many in that generation, I came from modest means and had worked my way through pre-law and law school. Angelos had done the same a few years before me.

Among the jobs I held during those years was working as a warehouseman, meat cutter and, ultimately, as an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. I had previously served in the military.

I surprised myself by passing the Maryland State Bar Exam on my first attempt. Not having any legal contacts, I began knocking on the doors of a number of small law firms to attempt to get a position as an attorney. After some fruitless interviews, I heard about an opening with a young lawyer named Peter Angelos.

Unlike the other firms at which I had applied, where I was quizzed on my knowledge of the law, Angelos seemed most interested in my employment history, particularly as to whether I had belonged to any labor union along the way. I had been a member of a meat cutters local, being one of the people who attempted to unionize the company where I worked as a warehouseman.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Angelos seemed pleased with that portion of my background and ultimately hired me in June 1966. I was the second attorney he hired and soon became the primary associate as my predecessor quit after a couple months. Given my background in the labor movement, he chose me to have the bulk of our contact with our union clients.

In the decades that followed, we came to represent more than 20,000 victims of asbestos-related illnesses, and Angelos became a national leader in representing them in litigation. The Baltimore region was one of the largest industrial centers where workers were exposed to asbestos.

The proliferation of these cases was largely due to operations at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point plant. Thousands of our clients — steelworkers and building trades workers who built the blast furnaces and coke ovens — spent great portions of their work lives there.

Angelos led litigation in the early 1990s, culminating in what was then the unprecedented consolidation of thousands of claims in one mega trial of more than 8,500 victims. Obviously, this required a dramatic increase in the number of attorneys we employed to properly handle the cases of these numerous victims. It took the guidance and leadership of Angelos to successfully try this enormous case. The trial lasted almost 10 months, resulting in victory for the victims in the summer of 1992.

The legal fees provided the resources that allowed Angelos, at the urging of then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, to purchase the Baltimore Orioles and to keep the team in the city.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Thereafter, our office was chosen to represent the state of Maryland in the national tobacco litigation resulting in a multibillion-dollar recovery for the state. Our firm at that point had more than 60 attorneys and offices in four states.

At times, working alongside Angelos all those years put me in a position like that of Forrest Gump — being both a witness and participant as Angelos racked up enormous achievements and made legal history. Without his brilliant and tenacious representation of our clients, I believe none of this would have been possible.

After all these years, I am finally about to retire. I know our firm, which Angelos created and built, will continue to serve the people of Maryland. It will be led by a group of the senior lawyers — Jay Miller, Jim, Zavakos and, I’m happy to say, my son, William Minkin — along with an accomplished group of attorneys.

They have all been led and guided by the brilliant example and tutelage of Angelos, who sadly left us at the age of 94, but will always live on in our collective memories.

Tom Minkin is the longest-serving legal associate of Peter Angelos at Angelos Law.

More From The Banner