Some legislators and government officials who encountered Mrs. Snoops declared her a charming hostess, a pleasant, no-nonsense companion for the governor. Others found her difficult.
Zealously protective of the governor, she scolded aides whose work she deemed sub par. She ordered the reassignment of at least one state trooper who questioned one of her directives. She controlled entry to the mansion, and some of the governor's closest assistants found they were not on the list of approved guests -- for either social events or work sessions held there.
But it was Mrs. Snoops' redecoration of the Governor's Mansion that won her the greatest attention.
In the mid-1980s, during the administration of Gov. Harry Hughes, the mansion's public rooms had been redone, in careful consultation with historians, to reflect some of Maryland's traditions.
But Mrs. Snoops suggested the museum-quality rooms were cold and unfriendly, and she set about redecorating and then re-landscaping the mansion grounds, using funds raised by Schaefer supporters as well public dollars.
By mid-1991, the public money spent on mansion projects -- both in private quarters and public areas -- totaled $1.7 million.
Fans of Hughes' restoration protested that Mrs. Snoops was needlessly undoing the work that former first lady Patricia Hughes had supervised. Governor Schaefer fumed publicly that her critics were wrong-headed and that Mrs. Snoops had saved the state thousands of dollars by working as a volunteer.
Infuriated by what she viewed as unfair assessments of her efforts, Mrs. Snoops announced abruptly three years after her work had begun that she might empty the mansion of the furnishings she'd installed, sell the fountain and bring back the "old, shabby and dull" items that had graced the building before her arrival.
She never followed through on the threat.
The declaration was characteristic of the straight-talking Mrs. Snoops. She did not shrink from confronting people she believed had slighted her or Mr. Schaefer.
"When you're in public life, critics always rip and attack you, and she took a lot of hits because of it," Helen Delich Bentley, a former GOP congresswoman and federal maritime commissioner, said yesterday.
"She tried to make the mansion a proud and comfortable place to visit, and I think she enjoyed doing it. She knew what was right, and she made sure that it was done that way," she said.
Mrs. Bentley, added, "She thought the world of William Donald Schaefer and cared very deeply for him and was willing to give her life for him."
Viewing will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and Monday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
Services will be held at the funeral home at 10 a.m. Tuesday with burial at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
In addition to Mr. Schaefer, Mrs. Snoops is survived by two sons, Lawrence A. Snoops of Sykesville and Craig A. Snoops of Millersville; a daughter, Dorothy L. Levi of Pikesville; and seven grandchildren.
Sun staff writer C. Fraser Smith contributed to this article.
Pub Date: 6/05/99