Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. Dies at Age 95
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. died today at the age of 95. Born November 9, 1915, Shriver was married to Eunice Kennedy, the sister of John F. Kennedy. An American politician and activist, Shriver -- also known as R. Sargent Shriver or Sarge, was the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, and as the Democratic Party's candidate for U.S. vice president in 1972. His daughter, Maria Shriver, is the wife of actor and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Trending News - January 18, 2011)
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. - Early Life and CareerShriver was born in Westminster, Maryland to Robert Sargent Shriver, Sr. and his wife Hilda Shriver. He spent his high school years at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. After graduating, Shriver spent the summer in Germany as part of the Experiment in International Living, returning in the fall of 1934 to begin college at Yale University. He received his bachelor's degree in 1938 from Yale University, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter) and Scroll and Key Society. He was Chairman of the Yale Daily News. Shriver went on to attend Yale Law School, earning an LL.B. degree in 1941.
An early opponent of American involvement in World War II, Shriver was a founding member of America First, an organization that tried to keep America out of the war. Still, Shriver volunteered for the United States Navy before even the attack on Pearl Harbor, saying he had a duty to serve his country even if he disagreed with its policies. He spent five years in active duty, rising to the rank of lieutenant. Shriver ultimately retracted his early opposition to the war.
Shriver's involvement with the Kennedy family began when family patriarch Joseph Kennedy, Sr. hired him to manage the Merchandise Mart, part of Kennedy's business empire, in Chicago, Illinois. After a seven-year courtship, Shriver married Eunice Kennedy, a sister of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, on May 23, 1953 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. They had five children: Robert Sargent Shriver III (born April 28, 1954), Maria Owings Shriver (born November 6, 1955), Timothy Perry Shriver (born August 29, 1959), Mark Kennedy Shriver (born February 17, 1964), and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (born July 20, 1965).
Shriver was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Illinois, New York, and at the U.S. Supreme Court.
A devout Catholic, Shriver attended daily Mass and always carried a rosary of well-worn wooden beads.
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. - Political career
When John F. Kennedy ran for president, Shriver worked as a political and organization coordinator in the Wisconsin and West Virginia primaries. During Kennedy's presidential term, Shriver served as the first director of the Peace Corps.
After Kennedy's assassination, Shriver continued to serve as Director of the Peace Corps and served as Special Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson. Under Johnson, he created the Office of Economic Opportunity with William B. Mullins and served as its first Director. He is known as the "architect" of the Johnson administration's "War on Poverty".
Shriver founded numerous social programs and organizations, including Head Start, VISTA, Job Corps, Community Action, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, Special Olympics, Legal Services, the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services (now the Shriver Center), Indian and Migrant Opportunities and Neighborhood Health Services, in addition to directing the Peace Corps.
Shriver served as U.S. ambassador to France from 1968 to 1970, becoming a quasi-celebrity among the French for bringing what Time magazine called "a rare and welcome panache" to the normally sedate world of international diplomacy.
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. - 1972 Vice Presidential Candidate
Shriver returned to elective politics in 1972, when George McGovern chose him as his Vice Presidential running mate after McGovern's first pick, Thomas Eagleton, resigned from the Democratic ticket following revelations of past mental health treatments. The McGovern-Shriver ticket lost to Republican incumbents Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
Shriver unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for President in 1976. His candidacy was short and he returned to private life.
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. - Life After Politics
Shriver was associated with the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson law firm in the Washington, D.C., where he specialized in international law and foreign affairs, beginning in 1971. He retired as partner in 1986 and was then named of counsel to the firm.
In 1981, Shriver was appointed to the Rockefeller University Council, an organization devoted exclusively to research and graduate education in the biomedical and related sciences.
In 1984, he was elected President of Special Olympics by the Board of Directors; as President, he directed the operation and international development of sports programs around the world. Six years later, in 1990, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Special Olympics.
He was an investor in the Baltimore Orioles along with his eldest son Bobby Shriver, Eli Jacobs and Larry Lucchino from 1989 to 1993.
Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003. In 2004 his daughter, Maria, published a children's book, What's Happening to Grandpa? to help explain Alzheimer's to children. The book gives suggestions on how to help and to show love to an elderly person with the disease. In July 2007, Shriver's son-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking in favor of stem-cell research, said that Shriver's Alzheimer's disease had advanced to the point that "Today, he does not even recognize his wife." Maria Shriver discusses her father's worsening condition in a segment for the four-part 2009 HBO documentary series The Alzheimer's Project called Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?, including describing a moment when she decided to no longer try to correct his various delusions.
On August 11, 2009, Shriver's wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died at the age of 88. He attended his wife's wake and funeral mass in Centerville and Hyannis, Massachusetts. Two weeks later, on August 29, 2009, he attended the funeral of his brother-in-law Edward M. Kennedy in Boston, Massachusetts.