Schaefer finishes on placid note

January 19, 1995|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Sun Staff Writer

And so it ended. Amid smiles and tears and offices filled with cardboard packing boxes, William Donald Schaefer, a placid smile on his face, stood in the Maryland State House and listened as crowds applauded someone new.

"I didn't think I'd be as happy and calm and content as I am," he said. "I thought I'd be weeping all over the place -- that sort of stuff."

But, he said, "I was ready for it -- psychologically and every way ready. I didn't have any trouble with it."

After nearly 40 years in elective office, the last eight as governor, Mr. Schaefer, 73, was simply a citizen. This morning, he will awaken in his Anne Arundel County townhouse with no official schedule, no public duties.

"He's got a totally different lifestyle that awaits him," said Robert A. Pascal, Mr. Schaefer's appointments secretary. "It's an adjustment, but he's up to it."

His aides say he's preparing for a life with no mansion chefs to cook for him, no state troopers to drive for him, no aides to keep his calendar.

A state trooper has been giving him weekly driving lessons. After so many years in trooper-driven state cars, Mr. Schaefer, aides say, lacks confidence behind the wheel.

"He's having problems with it," one aide said. "It's frightening to him."

A blue Pontiac Bonneville, which he bought from Penn Pontiac in Baltimore, will be delivered in about a month. Until then, a state trooper will continue to drive, courtesy of Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

But even in private life, Mr. Schaefer assured reporters, he will not disappear. "Oh, you will see me," he said. "You can bet on it."

In addition to the joint professorship being created for him at the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Schaefer boasted of several "offers."

Among them: a proposal that he write a monthly op-ed column for The Baltimore Sun, beginning in March. Mr. Schaefer, who spent a career excoriating reporters for their "negative, negative, negative" stories, promised that whatever he writes will be "positive, nothing negative."

And, "I might appear on television." As mayor and as governor, he was host of a weekly radio show, which he hinted might continue. Aides say he also may sit on corporate boards.

Mr. Schaefer said he has been making plans since "right after the election. I began to feel: Let go. Let go. Let go.

"My people had more trouble letting go than I did, all weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Indeed, some aides -- especially those who began working for him in Baltimore's City Hall in the 1970s -- have been crying as they filled cardboard moving cartons.

Lainy LeBow-Sachs, perhaps Mr. Schaefer's closest assistant, stood in Paul Schurick's stripped-bare second-floor office yesterday morning and watched as the chief of staff packed up the last of his files.

Her mood was funereal. Ms. LeBow-Sachs wore the dazed, grieving look of a family member at a wake.

"It's the worst day of my life," she said, then covered her face with her hands and sobbed.

Mr. Schurick, who also worked in Mr. Schaefer's mayoral administration before moving to Annapolis, put a brotherly arm around Ms. LeBow-Sachs. "We're used to this," he said quietly to a visitor.

Beneath Mr. Schurick's window, in a cold drizzle, National Guard members, state troopers and Glendening aides were making the last checks on the inaugural arrangements.

The stage was festooned in red, white and blue bunting, not the red, white, black and yellow of the state flag. "Where are the Maryland colors?" lamented Ms. LeBow-Sachs, who helped orchestrate Mr. Schaefer's two inaugurals. "Where are the Maryland colors?"

Mr. Schurick had said his goodbyes to the governor Tuesday. "I don't like saying it, and he doesn't like hearing it," Mr. Schurick said.

Mark L. Wasserman, the secretary of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, spent the day "just walking through the building. For me, it's a poignant moment, a real serious juncture in my life. I've been with him since 1976."

But while his aides took their time packing and leaving -- with Glendening troops arriving to supplant them -- Mr. Schaefer was not lingering over the transition.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Schaefer and his companion, Hilda Mae Snoops, opened the Governor's Mansion to the families of Mr. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The event, Mr. Schaefer said, was "happy."

He proceeded before noon to the Senate chamber, where he sat in the spectators' area to watch Mr. Glendening take the oath of office.

Then, after a few uncharacteristically patient minutes with reporters, William Donald Schaefer strode out of the State House and drove off -- leaving empty a chair that had been reserved for him on the inaugural stage outside.

Glendening officials had expected him to sit with other former governors. But Mr. Schaefer did not stay to hear Mr. Glendening praise him from the podium.

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