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Sargent Shriver

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Sargent Shriver

Sargent Shriver
Shriver, c. 1962
21st United States Ambassador to France
In office
April 22, 1968 – March 25, 1970
Nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Charles E. Bohlen
Succeeded by Arthur K. Watson
1st Director of the OEO
In office
October 16, 1964[1] – March 22, 1968
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Bertrand Harding
1st Director of the Peace Corps
In office
March 22, 1961 – February 28, 1966[2]
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Jack Vaughn
Personal details
Born Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.
(1915-11-09)November 9, 1915
Westminster, Maryland, United States
Died January 18, 2011(2011-01-18) (aged 95)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Eunice Kennedy (m. 1953–2009) (her death)
Relations Katherine Schwarzenegger (granddaughter)
Patrick Schwarzenegger (grandson)
Parents Robert Sargent Shriver, Sr.
Hilda Shriver
Alma mater Yale University (B.A, J.D)
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholicism
Awards Purple Heart Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal[3]
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II

Robert Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, Jr. [4] (; November 9, 1915 – January 18, 2011) was an American politician and activist. As the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he was part of the Kennedy family, serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Shriver was the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, founded the Job Corps, Head Start and other programs as the "architect" of Johnson's "War on Poverty" and served as the United States Ambassador to France.[4]

During the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President, replacing Thomas Eagleton, who had resigned from the ticket.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career 2
    • 1960s 2.1
    • Vice Presidential candidate 2.2
  • Life after politics 3
  • Illness and death 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Electoral history 6
  • Portrayals in film 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

Early life and career

He was born in Westminster, Maryland, to Robert Sargent Shriver, Sr. (1878–1942), and his wife, Hilda (1883–1977), who had also been born with the surname "Shriver" (they were second cousins).[5] He was the younger of the two sons. Sarge's elder brother was Thomas Herbert Shriver (1911–1989). Of partial German ancestry, Shriver was a descendant of David Shriver, who signed the Maryland Constitution and Bill of Rights at Maryland's Constitutional Convention of 1776.[6] He spent his high school years at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, which he attended on a full scholarship. He was on Canterbury's baseball, basketball, and football teams, became the editor of the school's newspaper, and participated in choral and debating clubs.[7] After he graduated in 1934, Shriver spent the summer in Germany as part of the Experiment in International Living, returning in the fall of 1934 to enter Yale University. He received his bachelor's degree in 1938, having been a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter) and the Scroll and Key Society. He was chairman of the Yale Daily News. Shriver then attended Yale Law School, earning an LL.B. degree in 1941.

An early opponent of American involvement in Yale law students, also including future U.S. President Gerald Ford and Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, that tried to keep the United States out of the European war.[8] Nevertheless, Shriver volunteered for the United States Navy before 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 on active duty, mostly in the South Pacific, serving aboard the USS South Dakota (BB-57), reaching the rank of lieutenant (O-3). He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds he received during the bombardment of Guadalcanal.[9]

Shriver's relationship with the Kennedys began when he was working as an assistant editor at Newsweek after his discharge from the Navy. He met Eunice Kennedy at a party in New York, and shortly afterwards family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., asked him to look at diary entries written by his eldest son, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., who had died in a plane crash while on a military mission during World War II. Shriver was later hired to manage the Merchandise Mart, part of Kennedy's business empire, in Chicago, Illinois.[10]

After a seven-year courtship, Shriver married Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the third daughter of Joseph P., Sr. and Rose Kennedy, on May 23, 1953, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.[11]

They had five children:

  1. Robert Sargent "Bobby" Shriver III (born April 28, 1954);
  2. Maria Owings Shriver (born November 6, 1955);
  3. Timothy Perry Shriver (born August 29, 1959);
  4. Mark Kennedy Shriver (born February 17, 1964);
  5. Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (born July 20, 1965).

Shriver was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Illinois, and New York, and at the U.S. Supreme Court.[12]

A devout Catholic, Shriver attended daily Mass and always carried a rosary of well-worn wooden beads.[13] He was critical of abortion and was a signatory to "A New Compact of Care: Caring about Women, Caring for the Unborn", which appeared in the New York Times in July 1992 and stated that "To establish justice and to promote the general welfare, America does not need the abortion license. What America needs are policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth."[14]

Political career


Shriver and JFK at the White House in August 1961.

When brother-in-law Peace Corps.[4]

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.[15] He is known as the "architect" of the Johnson administration's "War on Poverty".[4] Hired by President Johnson to be the "salesman" for Johnson's War on Poverty initiative, Shriver initially was "not interested in hearing about community action proposals." The Job Corps movement was more consistent with his goals. Thus, soon after his appointment, Shriver "moved quickly to reconsider the proposed antipoverty initiative." [16]

Shriver founded numerous social programs and organizations, including Head Start,[17] VISTA, Job Corps, Community Action, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, 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. He was active in Special Olympics, founded by his wife Eunice.

Shriver was awarded the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in 1967. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of good will to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in terris is Latin for 'Peace on Earth'.

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.[18]

Vice Presidential candidate

Shriver returned to elective politics in 1972, when 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 presidential nomination in 1976. His candidacy was short and he returned to private life.[19]

Life after politics

He was associated with the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson law firm in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in international law and foreign affairs, beginning in 1971.[12] 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[20] to 1993.

Illness and death

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.[21] 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."[22] 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 stop trying to correct his various delusions.[23]

On August 11, 2009, Shriver's wife of 56 years, Eunice, died at the age of 88.[24] He attended her wake and funeral in Centerville and Hyannis, Massachusetts.[25] Two weeks later, on August 29, 2009, he also attended the funeral of her brother Ted Kennedy in Boston, Massachusetts.[26]

Shriver died on January 18, 2011, in Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, at age 95.[4][10][27] Shriver's family released a statement calling him "a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment" who "lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place."[27] President Barack Obama also released a statement, calling Shriver "one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation"[27] Aaron S. Williams, the director of the Peace Corps, said in a statement, "The entire Peace Corps community is deeply saddened by the passing of Sargent Shriver." He further noted that Shriver "served as our founder, friend, and guiding light for the past 50 years" and that "his legacy of idealism will live on in the work of current and future Peace Corps volunteers."[28] He is buried alongside his wife Eunice at St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Centerville.


In 1993, Shriver received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom From Want Award. On August 8, 1994, Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton.

In December of 1993, the

Government offices
Preceded by
Director of the Peace Corps
Succeeded by
Jack Vaughn
Preceded by
Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity
Succeeded by
Bertrand Harding
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Charles E. Bohlen
U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Arthur K. Watson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Edmund Muskie (previous race: 1968),
Thomas Eagleton (previous nominee: 1972)(1)
Democratic vice presidential nominee
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale
Notes and references
1. Eagleton was the original Vice Presidential nominee in 1972 but withdrew from the race and was replaced by Shriver. Muskie was the Vice Presidential nominee in 1968.
  • Sargent Shriver Peace Institute
  • "American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver", PBS
  • Ancestor David Shriver
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • FBI file on Sargent Shriver
  • Life With Sargent Shriver - slideshow by Life
  • Sargent Shriver
  • Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
  • The Shriver Center
  • Video: Sargent Shriver delivering a speech about the Peace Corps in 1965
  • Works by or about Sargent Shriver in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Sargent Shriver at Find a Grave

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ Remarks at the Swearing In of Sargent Shriver as Director, Office of Economic Opportunity. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f
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  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Vinovskis, M. A. (2008) Birth of Head Start: Preschool education policies in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 42-43
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Hyman, Mark S. "Orioles are sold: $70 million; Buyers say team will stay," The Baltimore Sun, December 7, 1988
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ HBO Documentary, The Alzheimer's Project, 2009, Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? with Maria Shriver.
  24. ^
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  27. ^ a b c
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  34. ^
  35. ^ Larison, Daniel Shriver and Lieberman, The American Conservative
  36. ^


See also

The film Too Young the Hero (1988), about the life of Calvin Graham, features a scene during World War II in which Graham (played by Rick Schroder) meets Shriver (played by Carl Meuller).

Portrayals in film

1976 Democratic presidential primaries[36]

United States presidential election, 1972

Electoral history

Shriver was an admirable, principled, and conscientious man who respected the dignity and sanctity of human life, and he also happened to be a contemporary and in-law of Kennedy. Not only did Shriver represent a “link” with JFK, but he represented a particular culture of white ethnic Catholic Democratic politics that has been gradually disappearing for the last fifty years. A pro-life Catholic, Shriver had been a founding member of the America First Committee, and more famously he was also on the 1972 antiwar ticket with George McGovern. In short, he represented much of what was good in the Democratic Party of his time.[35]

Following his death, Daniel Larison wrote:

In January 2008, a documentary film about Shriver aired on PBS, titled American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver.[4]

Sargent Shriver Elementary School, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, is named after him.[32][33][34]

The Job Corps dedicated a Center to his name in 1998 - the "Shriver Job Corps Center" - located in Devens, Massachusetts.[30] The National Clearinghouse for Legal Services (renamed the National Center on Poverty Law in 1995) was renamed the Shriver Center in 2002 and each year awards a Sargent Shriver Award for Equal Justice.[31]


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