ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Political bigwigs and close personal friends plan to eulogize William Donald Schaefer at his funeral next week.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and longtime aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs — who held Schaefer’s hand as he died — are scheduled to eulogize the former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor at his April 27 funeral.
“I’ll be speaking about Schaefer, the man,” said LeBow-Sachs, who said she plans to tell funny stories about the political icon.
Longtime friend and state schools superintendent Nancy Grasmick, former chief of staff Mark Wasserman and Ron Rogers, who lived in the same retirement community as Schaefer, plan to read Scriptures.
The Morgan State Choir is also scheduled to sing, LeBow-Sachs said.
His body will lie in repose at the State House on Monday, then travel to Baltimore on a final tour of his beloved city and lie again in repose at Baltimore’s City Hall Monday night and all day Tuesday. His funeral will be held at Old St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, followed by a burial at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.
Baltimore officials moved a city furlough day from May 27 to Tuesday to give city employees an opportunity to pay their respects.
Members of the Board of Public Works — the state’s contract approval board where Schaefer held court every other week, first as governor for eight years and later as comptroller — remembered him in brief remarks Wednesday.
A visibly sad Sheila McDonald, the longtime BPW secretary, held her head in her hands and covered her eyes as Treasurer Nancy Kopp lauded Schaefer.
Although Schaefer got in trouble in 2006 for telling a young female state worker to walk back toward him at a BPW meeting and walk away again so he could ogle her, he was one of the first political leaders to hire and believe in women, Kopp said.
“He had the unique insight to take what was an underused resource in the city and in the state” and put women to work in his administrations, Kopp said.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, who unseated Schaefer in the 2006 Democratic primary, stepped lightly in his praise but attempted to dispel another Schaefer myth: that he thought of the Eastern Shore as an outhouse.
It was Schaefer who poured money into the Eastern Shore, rebuilding Route 50 as part of his “Reach the Beach” program designed to make travel to Ocean City, Md., easier, Franchot said.
In a phone interview Wednesday, former Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro III, who put Schaefer on his ticket when he ran for mayor in 1967, recalled driving back from Ocean City one Sunday afternoon to pick up a speech he had left at his City Hall office.
When he pulled up, D’Alesandro said he saw Schaefer’s car — notable by its tan color and bumper stickers everywhere — and figured the city councilman must have just parked there and left to enjoy the city on a beautiful summer afternoon.
Instead he found Schaefer in his office, working.
“He was absolutely dedicated. He was concerned about people,” D’Alesandro said.
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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)