Schaefer again plays in pool at aquarium

May 19, 1994|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer waded last night in the dolphin pool at the National Aquarium, 13 years after his famous 1981 dip in the facility's seal pool.

The occasion was a party for Frank A. Gunther Jr., who stepped down May 1 as chairman of the aquarium after two lengthy stints. Mr. Gunther swam in the seal pool with Mr. Schaefer -- then mayor of Baltimore -- in the summer of 1981 to make amends for its opening a month later than scheduled.

Mr. Schaefer made his splash this time in the dolphin tank at the Marine Mammal Pavilion on Pier 4. Wearing a black baseball cap, blue aquarium staff shirt and hip-high galoshes, he stood in the shallow end of the pool and signaled to one of the dolphins, which surprised him by leaping out of the water.

With an expression of sheer panic on his face, the governor retreated to his seat in the audience as onlookers applauded.

Mr. Schaefer told the crowd of more than 200 people that his 1981 swim was his "greatest accomplishment" -- as governor of Maryland or mayor of Baltimore.

"The picture [of that event] made the paper in India," the governor recalled. "Not Indiana. India. That's the only time I've ever been in the paper in India."

Those at Mr. Gunther's going-away party included many of the aquarium's original employees, volunteers and board members.

Mr. Gunther was succeeded as chairman by James A. Flick Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Dome Corp., the for-profit arm of the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System.

Mr. Gunther will remain chairman of the National Aquarium in Baltimore Foundation, a charitable affiliate of the Inner Harbor attraction.

In honor of Mr. Gunther's 18 years of service, dating to the time that planning for the aquarium began, executive director Nicholas Brown announced plans for an annual Frank A. Gunther Jr. Award, honoring a staff member.

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