Family and friends paid their final respects today a legend of politics in Maryland. William Donald Schaefer was remembered with a funeral service at Old St. Paul's Church in Baltimore.
"No matter how long the journey, cold the chill, fierce the enemy was, he was a friend. He found a way to capture our will to dare to be different and then challenge us daily to make a difference," said former U.S. Congressman Kweisi Mfume.
Schaefer was remembered as a cheerleader who wasn't satisfied until everyone shared his love for his city and state. The church was filled with Who's Who list of former governors and politically connected individuals representing the past and the present.
The 89-year-old Schaefer died April 18. He was Baltimore's mayor from 1971 to 1986 and governor from 1987 to 1995.
"He always had the right instinct that set the right tone and put Baltimore on the map," longtime aide Lainy Lebow-Sachs said Wednesday as she eulogized Schaefer.
A funeral procession with drummers, motorcycles, mounted police and a riderless horse escorted Schaefer's casket through the streets of Baltimore from City Hall, where mourners and citizens had paid their last respects over the past two days. Hundreds lined the procession route and clapped as the hearse passed.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley called Schaefer "a great man. Just a tremendous leader. A man who inspired us to make every day better than the last, and we're all very lucky to have been the recipients of his good work."
Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes said, "You know he had that mantra of 'do it now' and a lot of things got done during his time."
When Schaefer was state comptroller, then-Governor Bob Ehrlich (R) said Schaefer treated him like a son despite party differences. "If he thought you were operating from your heart, he would let you go even if he disagreed with you," Ehrlich told us." If he thought you were operating outside your heart, he would never forgive you."
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger was another of the many Maryland politicians to stream into Old St. Paul's Church for the service. "He was one of my mentors," Ruppersberger said. "When I first ran for office, I went to William Donald Schaefer and he said 'Do you want to help people? You want to make a difference? And we're going to make Baltimore the best that we can,' and he sure did that."
Other politicians included Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Michael Steele, former Republican party chairman and Maryland lieutenant governor.
Former First Lady of Maryland Kendel Ehrlich arrived wearing a large decorative black hat, which she said was a tribute to Schaefer's love for an annual Baltimore flower show.
"It's in honor of Governor Schaefer," she said outside the church. "You know, he kept Flower Mart alive, and he just loved that event."
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich said the hat was a tribute. "It's a celebration of life, and to celebrate his life, you have to add the laughter, because he used humor as a great tool in politics."
Ehrlich, a Republican who got along well with the Democratic Schaefer, noted that Schaefer was not partisan or ideological. "He never saw the world through R and D. Never," Ehrlich said, adding "he cared about building things, and he cared about serving people and that's all."
What William Donald Schaefer may have appreciated, even more than the large number of VIPs at his funeral today, was the crowd of ordinary people who lined the sidewalks to see him off.
Rhonda Horton says he helped people in need, and he inspired her to continue in school to become a social worker so she could help others.
Schaefer will be interred at a mausoleum at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, Md., on Wednesday afternoon.