Schaefer making one final tour through Baltimore

Casket driven by motorcade past old haunts, spots significant to his life

April 25, 2011|By Baltimore Sun Staff

William Donald Schaefer — the former mayor, governor and comptroller who left an indelible mark on Baltimore — is back in the city for one last tour Monday afternoon.

His body was being driven by motorcade past old haunts and spots significant to his life, from his home to City Hall.

City Hall

A huge American flag was hoisted by two ladder trucks in front of City Hall as more than 150 people waited for Schaefer's motorcade to arrive.

City workers stood in front of a row of gleaming trucks and other pieces of gleaming equipment parked along Holliday Street, which was closed to traffic.

The Ravens marching band played as the city police and fire department honor guards stood at attention to welcome Schaefer as he made his final entrance into Baltimore City Hall.

The bells of Zion Lutheran Church tolled out over the plaza in front of City Hall as the vanguard of Schaefer's motorcade arrived.

The hearse rolled up in front of City Hall as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, escorted by a member of the Baltimore Police Honor Guard.

In clipped, precise movements, members of the honor guard lifted the casket, draped in an American flag, and carried it over the cobblestones as Schaefer's body entered City Hall one last time.

As she walked into City Hall, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a former city councilwoman, recalled her longtime friend.

"He was one of my diner pals. We were diner Democrats," she said. "We never met a calorie we didn't like and a hand we didn't want to shake."

She added, "He had the verve and the vision. We'll never see another William Donald Schaefer."

Schaefer's casket was laid inside the marble atrium on the first floor of City Hall as a host of current and former city and state leaders, including Mikulski, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, looked on.

The Rev. Frank Reid, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church, offered an invocation. Reid thanked God for Schaefer's work in the city.

"We thank you for how much he loved this city and how much this city loved him," he said.

Rawlings-Blake described Schaefer as "one of Baltimore's greatest citizens."

"His deep emotions and passion for Baltimore drove him to accomplish greatness not for himself, but for the city," Rawlings-Blake said.

Schaefer's spirit and aspirations for the city would live on, she said.

"Some see a city filled with landmarks, public investments and buildings that William Donald Schaefer made possible," she said. "But Mayor Schaefer saw things differently. He saw a shining city made of people who made the unrealistic become a reality and the impossible become possible."

The citizens who were waiting outside City Hall "know that William Donald Schaefer defined the word 'mayor.' He will always be our mayor," she said.

"William Donald Schaefer is watching, waiting and wanting to see what the people of Baltimore will do next to achieve greatness," Rawlings-Blake said.

Rawlings-Blake placed a wreath of yellow roses and Black-eyed Susans by the casket as the voices of the Maryland Boy Choir echoed through the atrium.

--Julie Scharper

Outside City Hall

A line stretched down East Fayette Street east of City Hall as residents and city workers waited to bid Schaefer a final farewell. Standing about halfway down that line, John Waters chatted with other residents as he waited to clear security into the building.

"He was always great to me, even when everybody else thought my movies were obscene," the Baltimore filmmaker said. "He used to say, 'I don't care what they are, just keep making them,'" Waters said, adopting a gruffly official's voice.

"I think it was just to keep the name of Baltimore out there," Waters said. "He knew they were playing around the country."

--John Fritze

Health Care for the Homeless

The Schaefer cortege was about a half-hour late by the time it reached the new, $15.5 million Health Care for the Homeless service center at Hillen and the Fallsway. More than three dozen staff members, clients and old friends of Schaefer stood on the sun-soaked steps and sidewalk and applauded as the hearse pulled up to the curb behind a squadron of motorcycle police.

Longtime Schaefer aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs stepped from the following car and accepted a large pot of African violets from the organization's CEO, Jeff Singer. She then thanked the staff for their work for the city's homeless before the hearse moved on to City Hall.

As governor and comptroller, Schaefer took a strong personal interest in the agency's work. After convening a cabinet meeting in the organization's former building at Liberty and Saratoga streets in Baltimore, he saw to it the group got an annual state grant. That provided the stability it needed to raise more foundation and corporate money for its work. Schaefer's connections and influence were also put to use in the agency's fund-raising and capital development efforts.

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