BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Former Maryland Governor and Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer has died at the age of 89. He died Monday at 6:30 p.m.
He was recently hospitalized at St. Agnes Hospital for pneumonia. He was in hospice care at the time of his death and died at home, according to his longtime aide, Lainey LeBow-Sachs.
Kai Jackson has more.
He was a beloved politician, especially in Baltimore. He was credited with revitalizing the downtown area, especially Harborplace, as mayor, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as governor.
Schaefer was an only child. After a public school education, he served in World War II and followed his father into law before going to politics.
His political career began in Baltimore in 1955, when he was elected to the County Council for the fifth district. He won the council presidency in 1967. He was elected to his first term as Mayor of Baltimore in 1971; he received 84 percent of the vote.
He was still mayor when the Colts left Baltimore. The team’s owner moved them to Indianapolis and Schaefer called the man a liar and double-crosser.
He continued as mayor until 1986, when he ran for governor. He won 82 percent of the vote and was re-elected in 1990.
He was the dominant political figure in Maryland over the past half-century. In addition to his terms on the City Council and as mayor and governor, he also served as State Comptroller.
Besides Camden Yards and Harborplace, he also built the light rail system and M&T Bank Stadium. He worked tirelessly to promote his hometown of Baltimore.
He brought people back into the city by selling houses for a dollar and starting ethnic festivals. He approached every task with intensity. His philosophy was summed up by his two favorite phrases: “Do it now” and “Time is not on our side.”
“It was the most satisfying job [being mayor],” Schaefer said, saying that he would ask residents what he could do for them.
In his eight years as governor, he fed the hungry, built schools and worked on roads.
Schaefer was a man of another era.
“That’s what I want on that tombstone–he cared,” Schaefer said. “Even if I have to carve it in myself.”
The Democrat, a Maryland political icon who held statewide office into his 80s, battled to fill potholes as mayor and never missed an opportunity to tout his hometown, even jumping in a seal pool while wearing a turn-of-the century bathing costume and holding a rubber ducky to promote a new aquarium.
His declining health in recent years meant few public appearances. On his 88th birthday, he attended a dedication of a statue in his honor at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
O’Malley issued a statement: “I join all Marylanders in mourning the loss of one of our own, Maryland’s indomitable statesmen, William Donald Schaefer. His legacy lives…in the lives of those lucky enough to have known him and to have been served by him,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley says William Donald Schaefer loved the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland “with great exuberance” because there was nothing more important to him than the people he served.
The former governor will lie in state in the State House in Annapolis and the rotunda of Baltimore City Hall. The dates and times for those ceremonies and a funeral will be announced later.
O’Malley, like Schaefer, has been mayor of Baltimore and governor. He says Schaefer “demonstrated an unrelenting drive to make Maryland a better place.”
All Maryland flags are to fly at half-staff beginning immediately, O’Malley said.
Schaefer will be buried at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.
There will be a moment of silence Tuesday at 9 a.m. to honor Schaefer, Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. She wants every resident, visitor and friend of the city of Baltimore to take part in remembering Schaefer as “one of the greatest mayors in American history.”
To view a slideshow of William Donald Schaefer, click here.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)