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Tuesday
Jan182011

Sargent Shriver Dead at 95

Sargent Shriver (R) and his late wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver attend an April 2004 event in Beverly Hills, Calif. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- He was the driving force behind the Peace Corps, an activist, vice presidential candidate, U.S. Ambassador to France, and brother-in-law to a president and three senators.  Sargent Shriver died at the age of 95 after leaving a series of marks on the last century that his admirers say will remain indelible for decades.

He was christened Robert Sargent Shriver but became known to Americans as Sargent Shriver, husband of the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President John F. Kennedy's sister.

The Yale Law graduate, who was a founding member of America First, a group opposed to American involvement in World War II, ended up serving in the Navy for five years on active duty and retracted his opposition.  He met his wife of more than 50 years when Eunice’s father, Joseph Kennedy, hired Shriver to run part of Kennedy's business empire.  The two courted for seven years before marrying in 1953.  The Shrivers had five children – most notable among them, Maria Shriver, the former first lady of California.

Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps and after President Kennedy's assassination, continued with the Peace Corps for a time before becoming a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson.  In 1972, he joined Sen. George McGovern on the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket after the nominee, Thomas Eagleton, stepped down. The team lost the election to President Richard Nixon in a massive landslide.

Among the agencies Shriver founded in his years as an activist are VISTA, the Job Corps, Upward Bound and the Foster Grandparents program.  His wife, Eunice, founded the Special Olympics, which he headed for many years.  Shriver was America's Ambassador to France in the late 1960s.

He received many honors and awards throughout his life including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1994, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Shriver was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003.  His wife, Eunice, died in 2009.

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