Peace Corps & Special Olympics Founder Sargent Shriver Dies

Robert Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and the Special Olympics, and a former Democratic VP candidate has passed away. He was 95. Shriver had Alzheimer’s disease. His daughter, former CA lady Maria Shriver, championed the disease in recent years.

Shriver was married 56 years to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of John F. Kennedy. Eunice Kennedy Shriver she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88.

Shriver served in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in the 1960s. He either founded or was an early advocate VISTA, Head Start, the Job Corps, Community Action,  Upward Bound, and the Special Olympics, to name a few.

President Obama hailed Shriver as “one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation.”

“Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service,” the president said in a statement. “His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home.”

Senator John Kerry released the following statement today, on the passing of Sargent Shriver:

“Few Americans have touched as many lives as Sargent Shriver. As the first director of the Peace Corps, the head of the War on Poverty, and as president of the Special Olympics, he helped millions of Americans seize a sense of almost infinite possibilities and he brought the promise of America into countless corners around the globe. Sarge often said that ‘freedom is a crusade,’ and for him it was that and much more. He was an extraordinary man and an extraordinary public servant who never lost the idealism that grand achievements were a question of willpower, not capacity.

“With tenacity and vision, Sargent Shriver built the promise of the Peace Corps into an American institution, and now on the eve of its fiftieth anniversary the Peace Corps has sent almost a quarter million volunteers to aid 139 countries around the globe. He answered the call to service with the same energy and dedication again and again across the years, including in the federal Office of Equal Opportunity, which pioneered anti-poverty programs which lifted the lives of so many, from Head Start and VISTA, to the Job Corps, Upward Bound and Work Study. Sarge was a crusader for social justice and racial equality, a vice-presidential nominee who fought for peace, and a father who instilled a deep sense of duty in all of his children.

“Today we give thanks for the life and contributions of this ‘American Idealist’ who brought America closer to the shared ideals which are the American DNA. His lasting legacy is not just programs but people – starting with Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony, who have all kept faith with his public spirit and his public values, and who represent Sarge and Eunice’s greatest legacy of all, which is family. Teresa and I are thinking of each of them and their entire family in this difficult time.”

Scott Stossel, deputy editor of The Atlantic and author of the award-winning biography, Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver has more here: The Good Works of Sargent Shriver.

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