A strongly negative public reaction to the incident, captured on television and seen by a national audience, showed that Marylanders were becoming less forgiving of the octogenarian comptroller's antics. After several days of stubbornly defending his actions, Mr. Schaefer sent the embarrassed young woman a vaguely worded, handwritten letter half-apologizing for his behavior.
While Mr. Schaefer continued to be personally supportive of Mr. Ehrlich, he remained stubbornly independent. He openly questioned the governor's handling of the Port of Baltimore and opposed him on some contract awards.
On one occasion in March 2006, Mr. Schaefer launched into a tirade over rising electric rates in which he called Mr. Ehrlich about the vilest name in his lexicon: "Glendening Junior."
The next month Mr. Schaefer complimented Mr. Ehrlich's handling of the issue and publicly apologized to the governor for calling him a "bad name."
"That's one of my idiosyncrasies," Mr. Schaefer said.
Ms. Kopp said there were times when she wanted to shake Mr. Schaefer and demand to know why he was acting the way he did. But she said he was also a mentor and loyal friend.
"He was one of the kindest and most supportive people I've dealt with in Annapolis," she said. "I know that's not his image, but it's the truth."
By the time he was approaching his last campaign, polls showed Mr. Schaefer's popularity on the wane among Democratic voters. The seeming vulnerability emboldened Del. Peter Franchot, an energetic and highly partisan Democrat from Montgomery County, to launch a primary challenge. Janet S. Owens, the Anne Arundel county executive, would also jump into the race.
Mr. Schaefer's last campaign was a strange, barely visible ramble marked by sparsely attended events and little interaction with the news media.
Late in the campaign, with his political peril becoming clear, he released a radio commercial halfheartedly apologizing if his remarks had offended anyone. But he almost immediately undercut his own words by launching an attack on Ms. Owens' physical appearance, deriding her as "Mother Hubbard" and calling her fat.
As Mr. Schaefer and Ms. Owens exchanged bitter words, Mr. Franchot mobilized liberal-leaning Democratic activists, garnered key newspaper endorsements and managed a narrow victory over Ms. Owens.
Mr. Schaefer finished third, with just under 30 percent of the vote.
At a news conference after his defeat, Mr. Schaefer was gracious toward Mr. Franchot — saying that the best man had won — but continued to snipe at Ms. Owens and rail against the news media. Defiant to the last, he threatened to jump into a race for mayor of Ocean City.
In April 2008, Ms. LeBow-Sachs engineered Mr. Schaefer's move to Charlestown after the former governor injured himself in a fall.
Mr. Schaefer did not go gently. The first time movers showed up at his Pasadena townhouse, he shooed them away. But Ms. LeBow-Sachs, who at one point had Mr. Schaefer's power of attorney, persisted — taking her former boss out to lunch while the movers emptied the townhouse and moved his possessions into a sixth-floor Charlestown apartment with a view of the Baltimore skyline.
In late 2009, Baltimore unveiled a 7-foot-2-inch bronze statue of Mr. Schaefer on the west shore of the Inner Harbor.
At his news conference after his 2006 defeat, Mr. Schaefer told reporters he had no regrets: "Wherever I go in the state or wherever I go in the city, I've got things I can look at and throw my chest out."
He said that when he died he wanted to be interred in a mausoleum next to Mrs. Snoops, with the simple inscription: "He cared."
Ms. LeBow-Sachs said Mr. Schaefer was "one of a kind."
"I do not think we will ever see anyone like him again," she said.
Mr. Schaefer has no survivors.
Michael Golden, Mr. Schaefer's longtime spokesman, said the former governor will lie in state at the State House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Mr. Golden said Mr. Schaefer will then be taken on a final "tour" of Baltimore before lying in state at City Hall on Monday evening and April 26.
Mr. Golden said services will be held April 27, at Old St. Paul's Church downtown, with interment to follow at Dulaney Valley Gardens. He said additional details will be announced Tuesday.
Baltimore Sun reporters Annie Linskey, Julie Scharper and John Fritze contributed to this article.
A source in the preparation of this obituary was C. Fraser Smith's book "William Donald Schaefer: A Political Biography" (1999, The Johns Hopkins University Press).