"This is the day William Donald Schaefer was elected to the highest office obtainable," Rogers said afterward, smiling and raising his eyes to the sky.

To appreciative chuckles, the eulogists recounted anecdotes about Schaefer's famously bristly personality.

"The first time he yelled at me, slammed the door and wouldn't talk to me for a week, right then and there I knew he liked me," LeBow-Sachs said.

LeBow-Sachs said Schaefer was a father to his aides, stern but determined to pull every "shred of untapped potential" out of them. But one offspring was his most beloved, she added.

"Baltimore was his favorite child," she said. "If you dared talk negative about Baltimore, he would go nuts."

Both she and Mikulski imagined how even more demanding the writer of "action memos" could have been had BlackBerrys been around during his mayoral years. But, Mikulski noted, he still would have been the Don Schaefer of hand-to-hand politicking.

"How many of us have been at a church supper and seen Schaefer sitting there?" she asked, going on to list the ravioli suppers and sour beef dinners and pancake breakfasts and fish fries that he would attend — not for the food but for the chance to rub elbows.

"He loved the front steps. He was grouchy because they invented air-conditioning," Mikulski said, recalling how Schaefer would go "door-to-door and say, 'Hi, what's going on?'"

Mikulski, a city councilwoman when Schaefer was mayor, remembered speaking with him right after she was elected to the Senate to ask what he needed. "Bucks to Baltimore!" Mikulski said, quoting Schaefer's attitude. "'The buck stops here, and the more the better."

Drawing the biggest laugh and a round of applause was Mfume's remembrance of the head-butting relationship he and others had in the past with Schaefer.

"No one irritated me more than him, and nobody irritated him more than me," Mfume said. "Well, maybe Parris Glendening."

Mfume said they were so antagonistic, Schaefer used to call him Councilman Muffin. But, Mfume said, when he was headed to Congress and Schaefer to the governor's office, they buried the hatchet.

In the way of two old fighters, they became close, Mfume said, recalling two experiences in which he saw the "shy and very private" Schaefer break down in tears after his heart was broken: When the Colts left town and when his mother was buried from the same church.

In what was an often poetic eulogy that gave a nod to everyone from Shakespeare to Ted Kennedy, Mfume began by quoting Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." He ended with the same poem as he left the lectern, pausing to pat Schaefer's casket as he returned to his seat.

Moments after the service ended, Beverley Koehler-Schmidt, 46, of East Baltimore rushed out of the overflow space set up at the Tremont Grand hotel next door to the church, where she and several dozen others watched the service on a projection screen. She wanted to see the casket of the man whose administration she credits with helping her out of homelessness in the mid-1980s.

"They aren't going to get a better person than that," she said. "He was a beautiful person in life. He will be missed."

From the church, some headed to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, where light showers fell on the sweeping lawns. As the Fire Brigade Pipes & Drums of Greater Baltimore played and beat a slow cadence, the cortege arrived; among those escorting the hearse was a riderless horse, symbolizing a fallen leader.

Soldiers and airmen from the Maryland National Guard carried Schaefer's casket to a grassy courtyard at the mausoleum. As it arrived, Guardsmen fired a thunderous, 19-gun salute by four howitzers as the 229th Army Band played.

The casket was placed on a bier in front of a tent sheltering 10 of Schaefer's close friends. About 120 people, including O'Malley and Brown, stood just behind the tent.

The casket team then lifted the American flag from Schaefer's casket as Stanley began the brief service of committal. A three-volley rifle salute followed, and then a bugler played taps. The flag from the casket was presented to LeBow-Sachs by Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard.

Schaefer's remains were later interred in a mausoleum, next to longtime companion Hilda Mae Snoops, who died in 1999.

For those he left behind, particularly former aides and those who succeeded him in office, there was a sense of the big shoes that they are inspired to fill.

"It made me proud to be a Marylander," Rawlings-Blake said after the service. "I was just thinking, 'I hope he thinks it was enough, that it was big enough and grand enough.'"

Baltimore Sun reporters Laura Vozzella, Julie Scharper, Frank D. Roylance, Annie Linskey and Jacques Kelly contributed to this article.

jean.marbella@baltsun.com

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