Governor William Donald Schaefer 1921-2011
Baltimore, April 26, 2011 – As Mayor and Governor William Donald Schaefer lay in state in Baltimore’s City Hall this morning, one of the thousands of people whose lives he changed (without ever knowing it) took an extra couple of minutes, hand over heart, to contemplate the difference one man can make. For Baltimore. For Maryland. And for thousands of people who, except for this singular leader’s energy and vision, might have made a home elsewhere.
In a time when many of us sense that our nation’s leaders seem to be working for everybody except us, William Donald Schaefer was the spokesperson, advocate, big brother for and deal maker on behalf of “the little guy” – those who couldn’t afford to “pay” for representation except with their votes.
But votes were the currency that mattered most to him. So he honored the citizens who believed in him – the little guys, or “little girls” as it were – with accomplishments on behalf of the city and state and its citizens that are legion, and in this short space, too numerous to list.
With every achievement however, there was never any doubt as to where his heart and intentions were headed. So he fought to build Baltimore’s Metro Subway system, to connect people with the jobs that are the lifeblood of any thriving community. He was the driving force behind Central Maryland’s Light Rail system, to round out a transportation network that is key to the region’s success. He tirelessly promoted the vision of Baltimore as a tourist haven, to provide jobs that could help the city’s residents follow their dreams. And because he knew that neighborhoods mattered, he never quit fighting to save those that had seen better times, and to establish entirely new neighborhoods to make sure that Baltimore would have a mix of people and culture and arts that make city life worth living.
Yet for all his accomplishments, it wouldn’t be unusual to see this advocate for “the little guy” on a stroll up Charles Street or in the streets of Little Italy, ready to share his extraordinary and oh-so-human personality with all he met.
This morning, as the blogger stood there contemplating what our community might have been like without “America’s Best Mayor,” he waited until the next group of those paying their respects passed by the funeral bier. After all, giant though he was, he’d had no family of his own once his mother had passed away years ago. This Mayor and Governor’s family was the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland. It simply wouldn’t do for him to be alone, even in repose.
We miss you more than words can say, dear Mr. Schaefer. Thank you for your vision, your energy, your spirit and your brilliance. Thank you for doing the right thing at every turn on our behalf. Thank you for everything.