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News Obituaries

Timeline of Schaefer's public life

Significant dates in William Donald Schaefer's half-century in politics:

1950: Schaefer, a graduate of the University of Baltimore law school, opens downtown practice. Runs unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates from West Baltimore.

1954: Fails again to win seat in House of Delegates.

1955: Wins campaign for Baltimore City Council.

1967: Runs citywide and is elected City Council president, serving with Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III.

1968: Helps direct National Guard to quell riots after the killing of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

1971: Wins Democratic primary for mayor with 56 percent of vote against three candidates, easily wins general election.

1975: Re-elected mayor with slogan "Mayor Schaefer — Worth Repeating."

1978: Defeats opponents of Harborplace in a referendum.

1979: Baltimore Convention Center opens. Elected to third term.

1980: Harborplace opens to rave reviews.

January 1981: Declares that National Aquarium construction is progressing well. If it doesn't open on time, he says, he'll "jump in the tank."

March 1981: With President Ronald Reagan cutting federal budget, Schaefer goes to Washington to plead for aid. When legislators don't respond sympathetically, Schaefer says, "I'm so angry I can't see."

1981: Calls in business executives and persuades them to begin "Blue Chip-In," a program that raises $400,000 privately in its first year to fill gaps caused by federal budget cuts.

July 1981: Before television cameras, Schaefer — dressed in old-time bathing costume and carrying an inflatable duck — steps into National Aquarium's seal pool.

1982: Columnist George Will writes: "Schaefer embodies his community more completely than even Richard Daley or Fiorello La Guardia embodied Chicago and New York."

1983: Re-elected mayor in general election, winning 93 percent of vote.

1984: Esquire magazine cover story calls Schaefer "the best mayor in America," but staffers are chagrined to find that the article depicts him as a noodge who patrols alleys for trash.

1984: Baltimore Metro opens.

1985: Appoints himself "supreme commander" and launches an "assault on trash," in a military-style effort to clean up the city. City Hall reporters are called "war correspondents visiting the front."

May 1986: With longtime companion Hilda Mae Snoops at his side, Schaefer declares his candidacy for governor.

July 1986: In a campaign interview, Schaefer calls his primary opponent, Attorney General Steven H. Sachs, a "dumb a — —," among other things.

September 1986: Defeats Sachs in Democratic primary.

November 1986: With 82 percent of the vote, he beats a little-known Republican to win the gubernatorial election. It is the biggest margin of victory for any governor elected that day.

January 1987: The day before his inauguration in Annapolis, Schaefer climbs inside a box at Harborplace, is raised to the deck of a ship and emerges in a white naval uniform. The box is labeled "Baltimore's gift to Maryland."

1987: Wins legislative approval for the construction of two new stadiums in Baltimore.

September 1990: Wins Democratic primary with 77 percent of the vote against little-known gun-rights advocate.

November 1990: Re-elected with 59.6 percent of the vote. But over the next several months, he settles into a funk, angry at losing more than half the state's counties.

February 1991: At a State House ceremony, Schaefer asks two Eastern Shore delegates: "How's that s— — house of an Eastern Shore?" After a week of stonewalling, the governor apologizes, insisting it was "a joke."

April 1992: General Assembly passes a package of $500 million in tax increases to bail state out of budget crisis.

May 1992: First leg of light rail opens, connecting Timonium and Camden Yards.

October 1992: Flies to Missouri to endorse Republican President George H.W. Bush for re-election. State Democrats are outraged.

October 1993: Saying that state taxpayers spend nearly $2.3 million a year on salary and perks for Schaefer, Money magazine rates him "the most pampered governor in America."

January 1995: Schaefer, facing a term limit as governor, leaves office.

July 1998: Longtime state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein dies at age 85, shortly before election filing deadline. Within days, Schaefer enters race.

November 1998: Elected comptroller with 62 percent of vote.

June 4, 1999: Hilda Mae Snoops, Schaefer's longtime companion, dies.

November 2002: Re-elected comptroller, by a margin of more than 2-1. As chairman of the state pension plan, he leads a turnaround of the scandal-ridden retirement system. The system performs strongly over the next three years.

June 2003: State Court of Appeals delivers the comptroller's office a victory, ruling that companies that establish holding companies in Delaware owe taxes in Maryland. The state collects millions.

February 2006: At state Board of Public Works meeting, stops a female aide who had just given him a mug of tea and walked away, commanding her to return and "walk again" as he watches.

April 2006: Votes with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to cut the state property tax by 2 cents, over the objections of Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a Democrat.

Sept. 13, 2006: Acknowledges defeat in Democratic primary for comptroller.

April 2008: Moves to Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville.

Nov. 2, 2009: Schaefer statue unveiled on west shore of Inner Harbor.

April 18, 2011: Schaefer dies at age 89 after recently being hospitalized for pneumonia.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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