BETHESDA, Md. – R. Sargent Shriver, the exuberant public servant and Kennedy in-law whose career included directing the Peace Corps, fighting the War on Poverty, ambassador to France and, less successfully, running for office, died Tuesday. He was 95.
Shriver, who announced in 2003 that he had Alzheimer’s disease, had been hospitalized for several days.
One of the last links to President Kennedy’s administration, Shriver’s death comes less than two years after his wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died on Aug. 11, 2009, at age 88.
Speaking outside Suburban Hospital in Maryland, Anthony Kennedy Shriver said his father was “with my mom now,” and called his parents’ marriage a great love story.
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At Eunice Shriver’s memorial service, their daughter Maria Shriver said her father let her mother “rip and he let her roar, and he loved everything about her.”
The handsome Shriver was often known first as an in-law – brother-in-law of President John F. Kennedy and, late in life, father-in-law of actor-former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But his achievements were historic in their own right: the Peace Corps’ first director and the leader of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” out of which came such programs as Head Start and Legal Services.
President Barack Obama called Shriver “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,” Obama said in a statement.
Within the family, Shriver was sometimes relied upon for the hardest tasks. When Jacqueline Kennedy needed the funeral arranged for her assassinated husband, she asked her brother-in-law.
“He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment,” the Shriver family said in a statement. “He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family.”