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Schaefer Back At Baltimore's City Hall For Last Goodbye

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) -- The body of William Donald Schaefer is back in Baltimore for one final farewell.

Schaefer lay in repose at Baltimore's City Hall Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday's funeral.

Adam May has more on how the city is remembering the man who left an indelible mark on its history.

The larger-than-life William Donald Schaefer is getting a big and heartfelt sendoff.

He spent Tuesday in City Hall, one last time, before a packed funeral Wednesday.

Members of Schaefer's staff from his time as Baltimore mayor, and Maryland governor and comptroller, gathered early Tuesday morning at City Hall to exchange memories before a viewing began in the rotunda. Dozens of people were waiting in line when doors opened to the public.

About 500 people had signed guest books Monday evening while waiting to pay their final respects.

An amazing diversity of people is coming to say goodbye to the man who cut across race, age and income level. Many people who never knew the man want to tell the man how much he meant to this city and this state.  

"He was the grandfather of Baltimore City," said one.

"I'm so proud to say that no matter where I go throughout the city, throughout the state, I've seen so much of Mayor Schaefer's thumbprint on everything," said Trisha Jenetski.

Schaefer loved Baltimore, and thousands of people across the city loved him so much they lined the streets on a 15-mile tour of his life.  

"I thought he was a wonderful character and there won't be anybody like him again," said one.

"He was a jewel for Baltimore.  He still is," said another.

"God only made one like him.  There is no other who will be like him because he had a genuine love for people," said another person.

For people across the city and state, losing Schaefer was like losing a member of their own family.  He was theirs and they're having a tough time letting go.

"He was down to earth.  It's one thing to be liked, but he was loved," said a spectator.

"We're just here to say how much we loved him and cared for him and we're just grateful that he is now in heaven," said another person.

Gunner Fisher and Leslie Londeree were two of the final visitors.

"We had to show our respects because he's such a great man," Fisher said.

"He just brought such life to the city, so many wonderful things for it.  He's just irreplaceable," Londeree said.

Cannons fired at the Inner Harbor he built, neighbors cheered outside his boyhood home in West Baltimore, and the bishop blessed him at the Basilica.

Filmmaker John Waters was among some of the people paying respect at City Hall.

"He made the whole city alive and he reinvented it and he made a lot of what it is today. I want more statues of him, on every corner," said Waters.

Wednesday he will be serenaded into the sunset when the Morgan State choir will join powerful politicians and regular Joes at the service. 

Schaefer defined Maryland politics for his generation, and the celebration of his life shows it. Public servant #1 is gone, but he leaves behind an unforgettable legacy.

Those who knew him best say he'd love this tribute, knowing that the people he served knew how much he really cared.

"I don't think any other politician in this state can match up to who he was, and we miss him," said one.  "And we love him."

A furlough day for city workers was moved up to Tuesday, to give employees the chance to pay their respects without having to take off work.

Click here to view the Schaefer slideshow.

Schaefer's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at the Old St. Paul's Church, followed by burial at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium.

WJZ will have complete coverage of Schaefer's funeral Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation has announced the following street closures and parking restrictions:

  • Fayette Street between Gay and N. Charles Streets from 10:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
  • N. Charles Street between Fayette and Mulberry Streets from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Saratoga Street between Liberty and Charles Streets from 9  a.m. - 2 p.m.

From the Department of Transportation:

"Please note that area garages located in the vicinity of the road closures listed above will be affected by the funeral service on Wednesday morning. Patrons who utilize these garages will have access to park until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Then from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., only controlled access to these garages will be allowed for those who are attending the funeral service. Patrons will be able to exit the garages at any time.

Motorists should also be aware that during times of movement for both the final tour of the city and the funeral service, there will be temporary road closures along the procession routes."

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