All in all, he’d rather have stayed in Baltimore.
William Donald Schaefer returned to the State House on Monday in the first stage of his three-day funeral. It was a place he never really wanted to be, but that’s where the politicians wanted him to be.
“I didn’t like giving up being mayor. I’ve never been as happy in my life as when I was mayor,” Schaefer told me in a mid-2006 interview for the Baltimore Examiner, as he has prepared for his disastrous last campaign. “I didn’t want to be governor. Governor was the next step. It was the thing to do.”
“There’s no job like mayor. Mayor made me the happiest man when I lived in that little house in Baltimore City. Governor is nice in name, but to be a mayor you accomplish an awful lot. As governor, you’ve got statewide responsibilities, but if you’re mayor of a city, you know everything that goes on in the city, you know everything about it.”
So it was appropriate that Schaefer’s body was coming to Annapolis for just four hours before he would return to Baltimore for a tour of the city and an evening and full day of viewing at the City Hall he loved so much.
The line was fairly thin waiting to view the flag draped coffin. Louise Hayman, who had worked for Schaefer as governor and comptroller, called it “a reunion of sorts.” Most of the people in line appeared to be state employees, many from the comptroller’s office two blocks away. CORRECTION All four living ex-governors — Marvin Mandel, Harry Hughes, Parris Glendening and Bob Ehrlich — attended the private ceremony under the State House dome with Gov. Martin O’Malley.
UPDATE TUESDAY: After an initial crowd of several hundred people paid their respects, other mourners dribbled in by ones and twos, and much of the time the rotunda was nearly empty. It was clear from the Baltimore coverage in today’s roundup that the crowds were much larger and more emotional in his hometown.