People on the Move – Former Md. Gov. Schaefer Adapts To Life In Retirement Community

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CATONSVILLE, Md. — William Donald Schaefer served the people of Maryland for half a century — first as Baltimore’s mayor, then as Maryland’s governor and finally as the state’s comptroller — and now he has a new home in a retirement community.

Today Chris Gordon sat down with the former governor to talk about his past and his future.

If given the choice Schaefer probably would never have retired, he told News4’s Chris Gordon in an interview Monday, but Schaefer lost the comptroller primary in 2006 and left public office.

Schaefer always was known for his humor and showmanship. At age 86, Schaefer is more subdued and philosophical, Gordon reported.

A friend was concerned about Schaefer after a fall, so she took him to lunch one day and had all of his belongings moved to the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville. At first, Schaefer was upset, but he quickly adapted.

“You know, as you get older, you never think you’ll come to a place like this, and I don’t mean this is that,” he said. “You get older and you hope that there’ll be something nice. I have something nice.”

From his windows, Schaefer can look at the Baltimore skyline. He said that he’s proud that as mayor he worked with developers to transform Inner Harbor from an eyesore to a world-class destination.

Schaefer was a showman, doing whatever was necessary to get the support or the money for the next project, even if it meant donning a duck costume. Sometimes, his antics got him in over his head, like when he used the phrase little girl, called his opponent Old Mother Hubbard or when he asked a young woman at a public works meeting to walk away a second time so he could admire her.

“I thought I’d lose every election, and the key to my winning was the thought I was going to lose,” Schaefer told Gordon. “I ran on the premise we were losing and until the last vote was counted, I presumed we were not going to win. And it worked out, and people worked hard for me.”

Schaefer said he is at peace with his life, the people he has known and his service to Maryland.

He said that on his tombstone he wants the words “He cared.”

Schaefer summed up his political philosophy in one sentence: You are there to make life better for someone else.

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