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Remembering Sargent Shriver  
By Gene Williams
Lookout Staff

January 20, 2011 -- Robert Sargent Shriver, Democratic Party leader, advocate for America’s poor and disadvantaged and father of Santa Monica Council member Bobby Shriver, died Tuesday in Maryland. He was 95.

The public servant’s death marks the end of his 8-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Shriver first came to national attention in the early 1960s as the first director of the Peace Corps and a key advisor to his brother-in-law, President John Kennedy.

After Kennedy’s assassination, he continued directing the Peace Corps during the Johnson administration and was the driving force behind the president’s War on Poverty.

From 1968 to 1970, Shriver served as ambassador to France before returning to Democratic politics.

As a vice-presidential candidate in 1972, Shriver became a stand-in running mate for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern after Thomas Eagleton left the ticket.

But despite his celebrity as a mover and shaker among the nation’s most powerful elite, Shriver will mostly be remembered as an untiring advocate for the less fortunate.

During his decades of public service, Shriver helped start numerous social programs and charitable organizations, including Vista, Head Start, Job Corps, Community Action, the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services (now the Shriver Center), Indian and Migrant Opportunities and Neighborhood Health Services, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents and Special Olympics.

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, Shriver, along with his wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Profiles in Courage Awards which have been given at the Alzheimer's Association’s annual galas since 2004. Eunice Shriver died in 2009.

In 2004, Shriver’s daughter, then California first lady Maria Shriver began speaking publicly about her father’s disease and produced an award-winning film based on her book, “What’s Happening to Grandpa.”

And in 2007 his son-in-law, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, cited Shriver’s condition while backing a successful state-wide initiative for stem cell research.

In a statement released shortly after his death, Shriver’s family said:

“He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family. He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others.”

“No one ever came into his presence without feeling his passion and his enthusiasm for them. He loved God, he loved Eunice, he loved us, he loved anyone who was a servant of peace, justice or joy. He loved life,” the family said.

President Obama eulogized Shriver as "one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation."

"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,” the president said in a statement.

The writers and editors at the Lookout extend their sympathy to Councilmember Shriver and the entire Shriver family.


"He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others.”

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