William Donald Schaefer, former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, is being remembered as cheerleader who wasn’t satisfied until everyone shared his love for his city and state.
“He always had the right instinct that set the right tone and put Baltimore on the map,” longtime aide Lainy Lebow-Sachs said Wednesday as she eulogized Schaefer at Old St. Paul’s Church. The 89-year-old Schaefer died April 18. He was Baltimore’s mayor from 1971 to 1986 and governor from 1987 to 1995.
A funeral procession with drummers, motorcycles, mounted police and a riderless horse escorted Schaefer’s casket through the streets of Baltimore from City Hall, where people paid their last respects over two days. Hundreds lined the procession route and clapped as the hearse passed.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger was one of the many Maryland politicians to stream into Old St. Paul’s Church for the service.
“He was one of my mentors,” Ruppersberger said. “When I first ran for office, I went to William Donald Schaefer and he said ‘Do you want to help people? You want to make a difference? And we’re going to make Baltimore the best that we can,’ and he sure did that.”
Other politicians included Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Michael Steele, former Republican party chairman and Maryland lieutenant governor.
Former first lady Kendel Ehrlich arrived wearing a large decorative black hat, which she said was a tribute to Schaefer’s love for an annual Baltimore flower show.
“It’s in honor of Governor Schaefer,” she said outside the church. “You know, he kept Flower Mart alive, and he just loved that event.”
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich said the hat was a tribute.
“It’s a celebration of life, and to celebrate his life, you have to add the laughter, because he used humor as a great tool in politics.”
Ehrlich, a Republican who got along well with the Democratic Schaefer, noted that Schaefer was not partisan or ideological.
“He never saw the world through R and D. Never,” Ehrlich said, adding “he cared about building things, and he cared about serving people and that’s all.”
Schaefer will be interred at a mausoleum at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium on Wednesday afternoon.