Christy P. Mihos, the convenience store owner who questioned spending for the Big Dig project and spent millions of his own money on a failed run for governor as an independent, has died in Florida shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
A funeral service is set for Mihos Thursday at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Pierce, Fla., according to church officials and the Florida funeral home handling services for his family.
Mihos was diagnosed last month with Stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer, and he died on Friday in Florida, where he has been living the past several years, Florida records show.
Mihos took a single family-owned convenience store and grew it into a chain of 144 stores called Christy’s Markets that he eventually sold for millions to a national company. He then turned his attention to politics, serving on the board of the Massachusetts Turnpike in the 1990s.
On the board, which has since been abolished, Mihos often joined with former Worcester Mayor Jordan Levy to focus attention on cost overruns on the massive project that ended up costing state taxpayers billion.
“He knew the numbers,” said Levy said in a telephone interview Monday night. “Christy brought a solid support mechanism. He also knew a lot of people in the State House.”
“He brought a business perspective to it, too,” Levy said.
“All we had to do was expose it, but doing that took a lot of courage,” he added.
Levy and Mihos lost touch in recent years, but Levy said he was still proud of the work they did together.
“My part and Christy’s part was to blow the whistle on what was happening and let people know what was happening, and we accomplished that,” he said.
Fueled by public interest in his attacks on the Big Dig, Mihos spent $4 million of his own money on a run for governor as an independent in 2006, but only got 7 percent of the vote. He ran for the Republican nomination in 2010, but was eventually fined a record $70,000 for campaign finance violations, the Globe has reported.
In the late 1990s and into recent years, he was engaged in an extended divorce case with his now former wife that played out in Massachusetts courts.Felicia Gans can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans. John R. Ellement can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.