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.

Click here for a slideshow of Schaefer.

Comments (24)
  1. tammy d says:

    This man has done alot for baltimore and the people, he has the right to be seen for four day. The city he loved.

    1. Ronald Lee Norman says:

      If you enjoy Harbour Place , Thank WDS. Now let him enjoy his last ride. Who cares how much gas it will take. RIP

  2. sheriff says:

    Willie Don finds this all so amusing.

    1. Korcoran says:

      i love the man! he did great things for Baltimore and for Morgan State University! That being said, i do kind of wonder how he would have felt about all this fuss!! They say he was actually a shy dude. Let’s celebrate him though!! a great baltimorean, a great marylander, a great man!!

  3. nikia eaton says:

    You will be missed and my payer are with you. Let’s celebrate him through and a great baltimorean, a grea marylander, a great man.

  4. williejoe says:

    Where was all the fanfare when the man was alive? Why wait until they’re dead & gone. Stupid Baltimore.

  5. leaving mexico says:

    why are we doing this really??????? the man is gone let go. who is this trip for? he no longer sees. i can;t get a living cop in my hood but i get a dead former mayor, give me a break . we need jobs !!!!!!!!! not deadman tours. burrittos are good

  6. Brian says:

    A”pothole” drive through Old Baltimore.I see another remake of Weekend at Bernie’s.

  7. leaving mexico says:

    must be a white thing huh . you carry we bury. burrittos are good.

  8. Something we all do says:

    No matter who you are “Death” is where we
    all end up , 6ft below earth and in a pine box and hopefully a nice headstone
    that reads “He was a great Man and will be missed by everyone” at least in a perfect world thats where you hope to end up ….not on the 6 oclock news and
    they find your body in the river nearby…….we should celebrate life while we can cause Death can be right around the corner

  9. LINDA ANN SMITH says:


  10. LC says:

    I must say that “Mayor Schaefer” is the only politician I ever really felt any RESPECT for. He was truly a very Honest and Caring man for others. All really true native Baltimoreans will really miss him.


  11. Rose Gabriel says:

    I will also remember Mayor Schaefer and how he worked so hard to make Baltimore a place to visit. I can stil see him in the Duck suit. He always supported the home team. There is no other place like Baltimore s Inter Harbor and how he put Baltimore on the map with all the sweat he put into it to make ita place to see.

  12. OMalleyHatesSchaefer says:

    take my taxes with you old Mayor. This state has gone to hell with tax and spend.

  13. - says:

    This is a video of his motorcade from Annapolis to Baltimoer.

  14. lynnette says:

    i waited on Schaefer back when i worked at kmart on ritchie hwy i didnt know it was him till after he left but i knew it was him he was very nice to me. that is my memory of governor schaefer. i will miss him god bless you schaefer

  15. Jo Ann Watson says:

    II was just a young girl when Mr. Donald Schaffer was Governer and Mayor but I heard all good things about what he did for Baltimore. There should be more officials like him and this country would be in much better shape. He will be greatly missed and loved by everyone.

  16. sheriff says:

    Requiescat in Pace Willie Don & thank you again for your service.

  17. Pam says:

    I was in Baltimore the first time I met Mr. Schaefer. He was either a councilman, or maybe was mayor, but I didn’t know him. He approached me on the street asking about the then-abandoned power plant which he pointed out. I expressed my opinion that old buildings should be saved when possible, and new life given them. We talked about the topic for a while, and he seemed genuinely interesed. Later when I saw him on tv, I was mystified as to why he cared about my opinion. In later years I learned how he cdared for people and his city.

  18. Pam says:

    I was in Baltimore the first time I met Mr. Schaefer. He was either a councilman, or maybe was mayor, but I didn’t know him. He approached me on the street asking about the then-abandoned power plant which he pointed out. I expressed my opinion that old buildings should be saved when possible, and new life given them. We talked about the topic for a while, and he seemed genuinely interesed. Later when I saw him on tv, I was mystified as to why he cared about my opinion. In later years I learned how he cared for people and his city.

  19. SMGDH says:

    People r so ignorant what happened to the girl that got beat up was wrong no matter what color she is. The two girl are wrong for beating her like that. This issue has nothing to do with race it’s a damn hate crime. People act like only black people commit crimes and act lke animals when it’s all races. They gave the 18 yr old NO BAIL for an assault, again regardless of the color that is insane. There are some things that will never change……politics and ignorant people!

  20. belly fat says:

    I don’t disagree with this blog post!

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