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He also presided over the Maryland State Board of Educations 1991 appointment of Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who will retire in June after 20 years leading a public school system that has in recent years been named by some publications as the nations best.

Mrs. Grasmick was first appointed by Mr. Schaefer in 1989 as the states special secretary for children, youth and families. She praised him Monday night for being responsive - so much so that he often quizzed agency directors on complaints he had received from residents - and making decisions based on his conscience, and not on partisan politics.

“He always made those judgments with sort of an independent mind,” she said. “It wasn’t about elevating himself. It was about helping people.”

But Mr. Schaefer found success harder to achieve in the larger political arena of Annapolis, unlike Baltimore where he often won by imposing his will upon the City Council and most everybody else in his working-class hometown.

Mr. Schaefer’s second term as governor will be largely remembered for fiscal crisis and his retaliating against criticism. His popularity eroded most notably after a derogatory remark he made comparing the Eastern Shore to an outhouse and after nasty letters he wrote to residents who were critical of his administration.

Mr. Schaefer also alienated many Democrats when he broke ranks with his party in 1992, famously endorsing Republican President George H.W. Bush over Democrat Bill Clinton.

He was prevented from running again by a state law limiting governors to two terms.

Mr. Schaefer never married. The only woman he was regularly associated with was his longtime companion, Hilda Mae Snoops, a divorced mother whom he met in 1959 and gave the title of Official Maryland Hostess. She died in 1999.

Mr. Schaefer, bored with retirement, seemed reinvigorated when he pursued a bid for statewide office, as comptroller, in 1998. He won the post and served two terms until 2007, all the while defying political partisanship. Mr. Schaefer frequently directed withering criticism at his successor, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat - who would sit silently, not looking at the comptroller seated just inches away to his right.

He formed a close working relationship with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

“I’m sad,” Mr. Ehrlich said Monday night. “We had great regard for the governor. He loved my wife, Kendel, very much.”

Mr. Ehrlich said that despite the differences in their political parties he bonded with Mr. Schaefer on a personal and philosophical level.

“He was representative of the old Democratic Party, a more conservative party that would include former Gov. [Marvin] Mandell. It was a connection with a very solid foundation established over many years,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

During his term as comptroller, Mr. Schaefer was also known for making outlandish - and sometimes controversial - comments during the twice-monthly Board of Public Works meetings.

Some of Mr. Schaefer’s headline-grabbing statements included complaints about Spanish-speaking fast-food workers and people with HIV.

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