Quotes: Remembering Schaefer

Harry R. Hughes, governor of Maryland, 1979-1987

"Our interactions were not always friendly; that is putting it mildly. … I still call him the mayor. I think most people do. … He really loved Baltimore. I don't think he ever got over that. That was his first love."


Parris N. Glendening, governor of Maryland, 1995-2003

Glendening recalled having lunch with Schaefer in Baltimore in early 1994 when Glendening was planning a gubernatorial run: "Schaefer said, 'You know, I'm going to miss this. I'm going to miss this a lot'. … He said, 'You have your family. This is all I have.' And he got teary-eyed. … We had our run-ins. He loved the position he was in so much that it was hard for him to let go. … Bottom line on everything, he had a long good run; when people look back, they will say the state will be better off because William Donald Schaefer was governor and mayor."


Marvin Mandel, governor of Maryland, 1969-1979

"I think when he lost the election [in 2006], I think that had a dramatic effect on him. … You could tell how it hurt him. It's a shame. The city and Maryland have lost a great man.

Comptroller Peter Franchot

"He could say things that other politicians would be drawn-and-quartered for. He had such Babe Ruth status, he was able to flourish and thrive, really, in that reputation of being outspoken. … This was a man who really spoke plainly and honestly, and not the rhetoric of modern blow-dried politicians — and like all of us, sometimes it may have been better not to say that. But people loved him for that powerful personality."


Former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III

"Forget about politics. He was a decent human being and a loyalist. He gave his entire adult life to public service and was Maryland's outstanding public servant in terms of political diversity. He was a legislator on the City Council, an executive as mayor and governor and an administrator as comptroller.

"… I met Donald Schaefer in 1938 through my father, and he was with his father. I put him on my ticket as City Council president."

Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke

"He came into office right after we had the riots after Dr. King's death. He came in during the early '70s when a lot of people were viewing cities as just massive shelters for the poor. Schaefer really focused on the best in cities, not the worst, and became a real advocate for cities. Schaefer viewed cities as good places to invest, good places to develop businesses and families. That was, to me, one of the real significant aspects of his career. He was kind of a leading advocate for urban America at a very difficult time for cities."

Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon

"When he saw something that was not right — trash in the street or potholes — he would call his agency heads." Dixon said she met with Schaefer shortly before she became mayor, and he told her to demand excellence from city workers. "His advice to me was 'Don't just accept what the agency people say, make them do the best they can.' When he wanted to get something done, he was determined to get it done."

William "Billy" Murphy Jr., Schaefer's mayoral opponent in 1983 Democratic primary

"He was an old-school guy and really didn't have a modern view of the inclusion of blacks in his administration. … We didn't know each other very well until the election, and we ended up profoundly disliking each other because of the nature of the campaign. … Schaefer hated criticism and I was full of it during the campaign. … I thought I took it too far, in retrospect. [After he left the governorship], I took the opportunity to apologize to him. That started us on the right track."

The Rev. Michael Roach, former pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Church in Southwest Baltimore

"Donald Schaefer would just show up at our Christmas bazaar. In the desperate days of the neighborhood, he arrived, without guards. Everybody was so honored. You identified with him. He was one of ours."

Mathias J. DeVito, former chairman and chief executive officer of the Rouse Co.

"At times he could be difficult and he would stop speaking to me. These were all his ploys to get something done he wanted. He was complex and not the easiest to do something with, but he goaded me to do my best. He would motivate me through his negative fresh air.

"In my career at Rouse, I met with mayors and governors across the country. Schaefer was one of a kind. He was tops in terms of his ability to imagine. He had a great design sense. He could be strange and unusual, but he had a savvy political sense. People trusted him because he had a legitimacy of purpose."

"One day he showed up at my house in Roland Park. He was checking on a drain."

Richard Berndt, attorney and adviser

"He set the gold standard of being a mayor. After the 1968 riots, he put us back together and gave us a sense of the future. He had a relentless drive and a personal sense of ownership of the job as mayor. His temper was one of his favorite tools. It was an attention-getter, demanding more. His character attracted an excellent team of Schaefer marines. He also had a keen sense of the value of physical improvements. He understood the importance of the human dynamic of 'Schaefer was here.'"

Former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley

"Nobody else would have had that much determination and the guts to go ahead and {rebuild the Inner Harbor}. He was criticized and he was attacked but he knew it had to be done and went ahead and did it… . He was definitely a big supporter of the port. He did a lot of international travel on behalf of the port of Baltimore. He knew what it took to get business and he went after it. . . He was a veteran of World War II. When our troops came home from the first Gulf War . . . [to Towson] the only people to meet them were Governor Schaefer and myself.. . . We were both crying,"

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett

. "He came to a lot of Republican events. . . He was known and loved by people on both sides of the aisle." Bartlett said he first became aware of Schaefer when he jumped into the aquarium's seal pool, but said generations would remember him for the development at the Inner Harbor. "I hope that those who go to the Inner Harbor know that it wouldn't be there if it weren't for William Donald Schaefer. I will always remember him when I go there...This is a passing of an era."

Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger

"A master of politics, he reminded those of us in office to never forget the constituents we represent. From potholes to Baltimore's magnificent Inner Harbor, he worked hard every day to improve his community. His colorful personality has contributed to some of Maryland's most memorable moments and he will be sorely missed."

Rep. John Sarbanes

"I think his legacy is that he was a man of action. He was a leader who had a genuine love for his job -- whatever it was, whether it was being the mayor or comptroller or governor...The public benefited from that fact.


State Sen. Jim Rosapepe


I remember going to see him in the early 1990's, in the middle of that decade's recession, asking his help for working class employees of the University and the state. At the urging of the budget hawks of the era, he and the legislature were shifting workers to forty hours work for thirty five hours pay. The proposal was understandable — but making the change for working parents with only weeks' notice was silly and cruel. I went to see him, one on one, to make the case for them. He listened intently. Then he simply said, 'You're right. We can't do that to them. We'll delay it so people can deal with it.' And that's what happened.

Sandy Hillman, longtime Schaefer mayoral aide

"People never understood what a brilliant manager he was. He was a man of courage and vision. He had incredible political instinct; he was a public servant not a politician he did risky and courageous things. He was a common guy, no airs."

Robert L. Bogomolny, president of the University of Baltimore

William Donald Schaefer was a consistent supporter of UB and its mission as an education institution in an urban environment. He was a leader, and he led with the kind of positive energy and can-do spirit that I greatly admire. He had strong, deep connections to the city, and to UB - his alma mater."

Peter Angelos, principal owner, Baltimore Orioles

"Words are very inadequate to be an appropriate tribute to Donald Schaefer. He was somebody who dedicated his entire life for the betterment of Baltimore, the citizens of this city, and the state of the Maryland. He was a great friend and an extraordinary public servant."

Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools

"It was all about serving people. Every cabinet meeting that was the centerpiece: What have we done to serve people? …

"There was nothing elitist about him. I saw him as a visionary, not because he spoke in such an articulate manner … How he saw the inner harbor and wanting to promote that.

Former Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs

"We were primary opponents in 1986 [for the Democratic nomination for governor] but there wasn't much question about the outcome. I was attorney general and he was the mayor of Baltimore. … He was a very popular mayor and he deserved to be a popular mayor.

"I don't know another figure in public life in my lifetime, even though he and I disagreed about a number of things, who gave as much of himself as Don Schaefer did. The city, and then the state, really was his life.

Former Chief of Staff Paul Schurick

"He taught me and hundreds of other people to care about people. And what he drilled into our brains every single day: Care about people There are hundreds of people walking around the state of Maryland today who truly, genuinely, care about helping people because of him. … Successful public servants are the ones who care about people, and that was his greatest legacy. It's not going to be the bricks and mortar. …

"It didn't matter who you were or what you did. If you were going to be around him, you had to care about people. You had to share his passion for helping people. There's not enough of that around."

Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee

He certainly was a one-of a kind. If you look over the last century I don't think you're ever going to find a public servant who cared so much about the city and the state and who demonstrated a desire not only to get things done, which he certainly was famous for. But probably more importantly, to do the right thing.

Former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr


" I just remember him as having a great, great staff of really dedicated people who liked him and followed his marching orders."

Former State Sen. John Pica of Baltimore

"He was a wonderful man. That's all I can say."

Jacques Kelly, Annie Linskey, John Fritze, Julie Scharper, Jeff Zrebiec, Michael Dresser and Laura Vozzella contributed to this article.