ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Thousands took time to honor a man who changed this state and this city forever: former mayor and governor William Donald Schaefer.
Jessica Kartalija has reaction from the State House and City Hall.
The Morgan State University choir and the Ravens Marching Band performed, and many of Maryland politicians and dignitaries arrived, as well. They included Senator Barbara Mikulski, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, and others.
Everyone is saying goodbye to one of Maryland’s most beloved politicians.
Schaefer was known for his over-the-top personality, and his goodbye reflects that. It’s something the state has never seen before and likely will never see again.
Prior to his arrival, the mood was actually uplifting. People told stories about how he touched their lives. When the coffin arrived, however, the mood changed completely. The band played “Maryland, My Maryland” and many became emotional.
People stood in line for hours to pay their respects.
“There’s no question. He loved us more than we loved him,” said one woman.
“He was an amazing man and a good politician, which is kind of hard to find in my opinion,” said a man.
“I was an intern in his office and that started my love for Baltimore,” said another. “I’m here because of that internship, because of the values and interest he instilled.”
“He was a Baltimore original,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.
“He made the whole city alive and he reinvented and he made it what it is today. I want more statues of him,” said filmmaker John Waters.
Derek Valcourt reports there are three days of events planned for this last farewell to Schaefer. The first happened Monday.
Before Governor Schaefer is laid to rest on Wednesday, the public is getting a chance to say goodbye.
Just before 10 a.m. Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley greeted Schaefer’s flag-covered casket near the State House in Annapolis. Nineteen state motorcycles escorted Schaefer’s body.
Schaefer was lying in repose for a public viewing until 2 p.m.
“A wonderful public servant. A great role model,” said a woman.
“I’m sorry that he’s gone. He’s a legend we won’t have anytime anymore in my future, I don’t think,” said another.
Long lines formed early, hundreds waiting for the chance to say goodbye as his body lay in repose.
“He was a man of dignity, and he had a huge heart,” said a person waiting in line.
“He was straight-forward, honest, up-front,” said a man.
For some, this was more than a moment of paying tribute. Many worked for Schaefer and knew him personally.
One woman’s mother passed away and Schaefer sent a personal note.
“I am here today to pay my respects. Without him, I couldn’t have gotten home to see my mother,” she said.
“It’s very emotional. I worked for the guy for a long time,” said an upset woman. “It’s very emotional.”
Many longtime past and present political leaders are paying their respects, including Governor Martin Mandel.
“He never wanted to leave the city. We practically forced him to run for governor. He didn’t want to be governor, he wanted to be mayor. He would’ve been happy to be mayor all his life,” said Mandel.
“He was probably one of the greatest mayors of all time because he was married to Baltimore City,” said Mike Miller. “It was his wife, his mom, his children, family. He was a very unique person in government.”
Schaefer’s remains were then taken on a grand tour of Baltimore, beginning at his childhood home on Edgewood Street, then stopping at a dozen places, including the Lexington Market, the Hippodrome Theatre, Camden Yards, the National Aquarium and Fells Point, before ending at City Hall.
Mike Hellgren reports crowds are gathered at each location.
It was amazing to see the people lined up to pay their final respects. There were tears but it was mostly a celebration of a life that meant so much to the city.
Schaefer got a hero’s welcome throughout Baltimore, and it gave people a chance to say goodbye.
“He was a great man. He did a lot for the city of Baltimore,” said one.
He got a blessing at the Basilica and Senator Barbara Mikulski said goodbye in Fells Point.
Crowds gathered to pay tribute to a civic leader.
“He loved his people. I think he would’ve done anything for Baltimore,” said a man.
He’ll be remembered for Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor; he passed by both on his farewell journey.
“He deserves everything, I believe that. He was a people’s person,” said one woman. “He would remember people’s names, as well, and it was just a blessing to have him as governor.”
“I think everybody is inspired to put their best foot forward, because of the type of event it is and the type of statesman that Governor William Donald Schaefer was,” said Major Amy Bennett, operations officer.
After the tour, Schaefer lay in repose at City Hall from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and again all day Tuesday.
Jari Villanueva is overseeing the entire event.
“I’ll be focused on the tasks at hand. Of course in the back of my head I’ll be thinking that we’ll be saying goodbye to a great leader, a great statesman, a great person,” said Jari Villanueva, Maryland National Guard.
Baltimore City has changed a previously scheduled furlough day, giving workers Tuesday off instead, hoping that will make it easier for them to attend the viewing.