Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Hilda Mae Snoops (1924-1999)
MA SC 3520-2297
Official Hostess of Maryland, 1987-1995


Hilda Mae Noone was born on September 6, 1924 to parents Lawrence Edward and Minnie Noone.   Lawrence was an electrician, while Minnie was a stay-at-home mom who tended the family home in West Baltimore.  Hilda Mae attended Baltimore City Public schools including PS86 and Gwynns Falls Junior High.  She was a 1942 graduate of Western High School.  In her senior yearbook, the quote under her picture read, "Hilda is born to command," perhaps a foreshadowing of her future role as Official Hostess of Maryland.  She was also very athletic student, participating in many sports including, basketball, ice skating, and bowling.   Hilda Mae completed her education by attending the Church Home and Hospital School of Nursing.  She graduated with her registered nursing degree.

In 1947, Hilda Mae married Charles Snoops, a civil engineer from Baltimore.  The couple had three children, Dorothy Levi, Lawrence, and Craig, but divorced in 1962.  It is Charles Snoops who claims to have introduced Hilda Mae to William Donald Schaefer, one of his childhood friends.  The pair became fast friends and, although they never married,  were close companions for the remainder of Hilda Mae's life.

Hilda Mae pursued a career in the health care industry.  She worked as a nurse at the Lutheran Hospital.  In 1987, she retired from her position as a health insurance program analyst at the Federal Health Care Financing Administration.  Prior to this time, Ms. Snoops had kept a very low profile in Schaefer's public career as Mayor of Baltimore (1971-1986).   However, as Schaefer campaigned and was elected Governor in 1986, Hilda Mae took a more active role by his side in the public eye.  As Schaefer was a bachelor governor, the role of First Lady was empty during his administration.  To fill this void, Schaefer designated Hilda Mae the State's Official Hostess and as such, she became responsible for the supervision of the Governor's Mansion.

Although neither Snoops or Schaefer lived in the Annapolis house full time, preferring instead to commute from their Baltimore rowhomes, the mansion was often alive with activity.  The coupled hosted all types of events from business meetings to holiday parties for handicapped children.  Ms. Snoops oversaw a large scale renovation of the mansion, including the private quarters which had not had attention in many years.  Feeling that the house had taken on a impersonal, museum-like  quality, Schaefer and Snoops strove to make the mansion more accessible to all Maryland citizens.  One important step toward meeting this goal was the installation of a permanent ramp and an elevator for the physically challenged.  Other improvements included the installation of a skylight in the entrance hall, as well as the addition of several Waterford crystal chandeliers, Oriental carpets, and a Baltimore-built Knabe piano to the public rooms.  Ms. Snoops also helped organize the Governor's Mansion Trust, a committee designed to advise, protect, and guide in the administration of the Governor's official residence.

While much work was done to improve the inside of the mansion, Hilda Mae did not neglect the grounds of the mansion.  Under her supervision, the property's landscaping was redesigned and reinstalled.  The new plans included a brick terrace surrounded by curving walks, a rose garden, and most notably a Victorian-style fountain.  The fountain is a impressive tribute to Maryland which incorporates many symbols of the state's wildlife and agriculture including blue crabs, oysters, terrapins, rockfish, waterfowl, white oak leaves, corn and wheat.  On September 4, 1994, Governor Schaefer officially dedicated the fountain to Hilda Mae Snoops for her commitment to the project, to the mansion, and to Maryland citizens.

Hilda Mae Snoops served as Maryland's Official Hostess throughout Governor William Donald Schaefer's administration.  In 1995, at the conclusion of Schaefer's second term, Ms. Snoops retired from the public eye.  With failing health, she moved from her Baltimore home to a retirement facility in Columbia, Maryland.  She died of complications of emphysema at Howard County General Hospital on June 4, 1999 at the age of 74.  She was interned at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Mausoleum.  She is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

Sources:

Baltimore Sun, January 22, 1987

"Mansion to get help for disabled," Evening Sun, July 30, 1987

"Md. Mansion Improved," Washington Post, July 31, 1987

"Schaefer: Governor's Mansion open to all,"  Capital, April 10, 1988

"Turning a 'Museum' Into a Home in Md.," Washington Post, August 12, 1988

"Utah firm to make fountain for governor's mansion," Baltimore Sun, May 29, 1989

"State funds landscaping," Baltimore Sun, June 1, 1989

"'First Lady' Hilda Mae Snoops Dies," Baltimore Sun, June 5, 1999

"Hilda Mae Snoops dies at 74," Baltimore Sun, June 5, 1999

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