From the Baltimore Sun

Schaefer goes back to capital for award

By Jennifer Skalka
Sun reporter

March 29, 2007

William Donald Schaefer made a quiet return to Annapolis yesterday to accept the annual First Citizen Award, bestowed by the governor and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Schaefer, 85, walked gingerly to the Senate podium to accept the honor, created in 1992 to recognize individuals who have made important contributions to the state through public service or philanthropy. Former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., the father-in-law of Gov. Martin O'Malley, also received the tribute.

"William Donald Schaefer has left his mark on every office he has ever held," said Edward C. Papenfuse, the Maryland state archivist. "His insistence on product and getting things done, from fixing potholes to building stadiums, is legendary. ... The tributes and accolades for his accomplishments have even made it into newspapers he doesn't like."

Speaking in a soft voice for a few minutes, Schaefer noted several times that he had left his prepared speech at home. He said he was lucky to serve as Baltimore mayor, governor and state comptroller, and even found kind words for O'Malley, a longtime political foe.

"You've got a nice young governor who I used to fight with all the time," he said to a chamber packed with lawmakers, former Schaefer aides and several members of Curran's family.

"Laugh," Schaefer told his audience. "Stand up and laugh."

Schaefer, who lost last year's Democratic primary for comptroller, managed a complaint even in a moment of celebration. He said that when he was governor, the Senate president never let him enter the chamber. "I could never get in the door," he said. "He kept me out."

Curran, a former lieutenant governor who retired this year after two decades as attorney general, was toasted by Papenfuse for his fairness, love of state history and strong attachment to family. First lady Catherine Curran O'Malley and two of her siblings looked on from the Senate floor.

Curran, 75, said he especially enjoys his most recent title: first grandfather.

The governor said of both honorees: "They have done their best their entire lives for the hopes and dreams that all of us share."
Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun