Tony Guthrie never met the man he calls "the best mayor we ever had," William Donald Schaefer, who died in April.

"He loved this city," said Guthrie, 51, who owns a barbershop in Baltimore's Pimlico neighborhood. "I would have loved to shake his hand."

But if Guthrie never got that close to Schaefer during his lifetime, he brushed up against his legacy on Tuesday, which would have been the 90th birthday of the former mayor, governor and comptroller. Guthrie was among those who celebrated the milestone in a way that surely would have made the cantankerous Schaefer smile — by expending some elbow grease to tidy up the town.

"It looks great," Guthrie said after several hours of helping to rake leaves, pick up trash and plant flowers at Pimlico Elementary/Middle School. "And I feel great."

Joining residents and students under a bright fall sky was City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who came up with the idea for the "Do It Now Day" of community service to honor Schaefer. Young plans to make it an annual event.

"This is a way to pay tribute to a man who took pride in his city," Young said.

Schaefer may be best known for the big, landscape-altering developments he spurred, Harborplace and the downtown sports stadiums among them. But he was also famous for sweating the small stuff, fussing over the litter, the weedy parks, the abandoned cars, the flotsam and jetsam that junked up the city.

While Young envisioned workers taking a couple of minutes over lunch to pick up random trash or help neighbors with yard work, it was unclear whether many in town got wind of the new initiative. Still, dozens turned out for three projects that Young participated in — restoring the stone path at the Mothers' Garden in Clifton Park, which Schaefer had dedicated to honor his and all mothers; painting the interior of the Cahill Performing Arts Center, and sprucing up the grounds of the Pimlico school.

While the students there were born after Schaefer left Baltimore for Annapolis, and many were largely unfamiliar with his name, they did get the message of the day.

"I think all of us should help," said Dionne Jackson, 13, among the eighth graders who planted mums and raked leaves in front of their school.

"It makes the campus look neater and more beautiful," said classmate George Matthews, 13. "It looks better."

Vinson T. Stringer, whose Broughton Construction Company brought crews and supplies to the school, said community projects are especially important when governments are strapped for funds.

"We didn't want to just dump 200 volunteers here, and they do all the work," Stringer said. "The community has to take ownership."

Some already had started: Before heading back inside, a couple of students decided to name the flowers they had planted.


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