Willie Don has passed.
There is no denying, the world is a less colorful place.
He invited me to his house in the governor's mansion because I wrote him that I missed Maryland and equated him with Maryland. I lived in Baltimore for 10 years (1978-1988), and then Rockville, but moved to Iowa for a husband and his job.
We moved back to Maryland.
I always think of him nostalgically as "Mayor Schaefer." He made me fall in love with Baltimore and its Inner Harbor, revitalized, and Maryland, when I moved to there to attend the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins.
William Donald Schaefer was irascible, cantankerous, unpredictable, warm, manipulative, effusive, vindictive, caring, ruthless, passionate and loyal. To quote "The King and I:" "... this is a man who thinks with his heart; his heart is not always wise/This is a man who stumbles and falls; but this is a man who tries..."
He was devoted to his mother and cared for her in the rowhouse he grew up in, even while he was mayor and governor. He was also devoted to his girlfriend who worked at Social Security, Hilda Mae Snoops. But his most endearing love was of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. He was a better mayor than governor. He improved Baltimore's appeal and inner city, but not the state. His manipulation for the Inter-County Connector in Maryland while he was comptroller was a poor judgment and a mistake.
No one is perfect. He acted with his heart. The man was larger than life. He represented the old way and a former era when children took care of parents, and courted the opposite sex, when men teased women affectionately.
That time is gone, but he was not "sexist" — he was a living anachronism. We are a poorer state without his vitality.
Shelagh Smith, RockvilleCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun