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Charmed by Charm City


When Cynthia Pyle met Scott Roper, she had an eye for another man.

And that man was formidable competition: William Donald Schaefer, the colorful former Baltimore mayor, governor of Maryland and now the state's comptroller.

Cynthia proudly proclaims herself "president of the William Donald Schaefer fan club."

In 1997, Cynthia enrolled in a noncredit course at the Johns Hopkins University on the inner workings of Baltimore City government. She was drawn to the lecture series because her idol, "Mayor Governor Schaefer," as she calls him, was among the speakers.

Cynthia, vice president of education for the Beacon Institute, an affiliate of the Mid-Atlantic Housing and Health Association, hastens to say she's not a stalker or anything like that. But she has great fondness for the man who has done so much for her hometown.

Growing up when Schaefer ran the city as mayor, she watched as Baltimore was "reborn."

Schaefer "instilled in me a love for Baltimore and a commitment to giving back to the community," she explains. "He turned my city around and made my city an international place for people to come and visit and appreciate - like I do every day."

Scott, a Baltimore City police officer in the Central District, is also charmed by Charm City. He happened to enroll in the same Hopkins course, figuring he might learn something that would help him on the job.

As they left class the first night, Cynthia and Scott struck up a conversation. Scott walked Cynthia to her car despite her insistence "that nothing bad would ever happen to me in Baltimore."

The new friends decided to go on a date, and a few nights later found themselves at the Belvedere Hotel. Looking out over the city skyline from the hotel's 13th-floor bar, the couple realized they were smitten - and it wasn't just with Baltimore.

They began seeing more of each other, taking in all their favorite city sites - the Washington Monument, zoo, Inner Harbor, Canton.

"You have to be a Baltimore fan and a Schaefer fan to like her," Scott says.

Bubbly and charming, Cynthia's natural enthusiasm is infectious. She's a long-time volunteer at the city visitor's center. She attends seminars and lectures about Baltimore. She takes organized walking tours of the city. And she has a library of Baltimore-related books.

When Cynthia, 43, and Scott, 32, married Aug. 26, it was, of course, a Baltimore- and Maryland-themed event. The ceremony was held at the Maryland Masonic Homes Chapel in Hunt Valley. Cynthia's niece, Raven Connolly, served as flower girl.

A reception for 80 guests followed at the Conference Center at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. On hand to greet guests was an actress dressed as a Baltimore "hon."

The tables at the reception were decorated in yellow and black and topped with vases of the state flower, the black-eyed Susan. Instead of being numbered, the tables were named for Baltimore landmarks and included a photograph of that landmark with a brief explanation of its significance to the city. Guests received cookies shaped like Chesapeake blue crabs as favors.

Schaefer, invited as the guest of honor, sent his best wishes but was unable to attend. Mayor Martin O'Malley and City Councilman Robert W. Curran sent a proclamation bearing the city's good wishes.

"Scott is my favorite Baltimore person now," Cynthia says, but then adds with a laugh, "well, he and Mayor Governor Schaefer are tied."

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