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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

(1921-2009)

**Latest News on Sargent Shriver and his Legacy**
Co-Founder of the Special Olympics, Mother of Maria Shriver, and Sister to President Kennedy and Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

(1921-2009)

Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver (July 10, 1921-August 11, 2009) was a member of the Kennedy family and a co-founer of the Special Olympics in the 1960s as a national organization. Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, she was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy . She was married to Sargent Shriver, and the mother of California First Lady Maria Shriver, and the mother-in-law of Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Eunice Mary Kennedy was born into the wealthy and politically connected Kennedy family of Boston, Massachusetts, on July 10, 1921. She received an excellent education, as befitting the daughter of a wealthy ambassador, and the granddaughter of a two-time Mayor of Boston. Rather than waste her life as a well-to-do socialite, as many of her upper-class colleagues do, Eunice Kennedy chose to devote her life to improving the way society viewed and treated people (especially children) with disabilities. Motivated by the mental handicap and institutionalization of her older sister, Rosemary Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy used her formidable rhetorical and organizational skills, as well as her vast political connections, to prod the federal government into creating the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health. This government health agency originally worked to investigate the broad aspects of human development as a means of understanding developmental disabilities, including mental retardation, and the events that occur during pregnancy. In 2008, Congress recognized Eunice Kennedy's importance in the creation of this agency by officially re-naming the agency as the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Obviously, having her brother as the sitting president while she lobbied for the creation of this agency helped greatly, she knew how to lobby the members of congress to gain their approval for this agency.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver will be best known as a co-founder, along with Anne McGlone Burke, of the Special Olympics in 1968. Again, Eunice Shriver's involvement with this organization highlights her deep affection and care for people with special needs and the well-being of not only special needs athletes, but also of their parents and caregivers, who, she recognized, also needed to see their children excel and achieve in ways that were fulfilling and meaningful.

In her personal life, Eunice Kennedy also found herself immersed in the political world. Her husband, Robert Sargent Shriver (often called by his middle name or as "Sarge"), played a major role in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, served as ambassador to France, and ran for office several times, most notably in a failed bid for the Vice-Presidency in 1972. The Shrivers had five children, Robert Jr., Maria, Timothy, Mark, and Anthony. Maria Shriver is the best known of the Shriver children, having developed a successful career in television news before she herself married famous movie actor, and current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maria is currently the First Lady of California.

Politically, Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a life-long Democrat, but she was vocal as a pro-life Democrat, as are many Democrats of the Catholic faith. In 1990, she wrote a letter to the New York Times denouncing the misuse of a quote by President Kennedy used out of context by an abortion-rights group. In 1992, Eunice Shriver, along with other notable personalities, signed a public letter to the New York Times denouncing the Democratic Party's pro-abortion plank in the official party platform. When her son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, ran for the office of California governor as a Republican in 2003, Eunice and Sargent Shriver publicly supported him and campaigned for him in California. This is the only known instance that the Shrivers strayed from their role as prominent members of the Democratic Party. (Though it needs to be pointed out that Governor Schwarzenegger is considered a fairly moderate/liberal Republican.)

As she aged, Eunice Shriver's health became an issue. She was hospitalized in 2005 with a minor stroke and a hip fracture. She was again hospitalized in 2007 for an undisclosed health issue.

In August, 2009, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, suffered a series of strokes (source: Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver at Eunice Shriver's bedside-LA Times, August 8, 2009). Maria Shriver, her husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other members of the Shriver and Kennedy clan arrived at Eunice Shriver's bedside at Cape Cod Hospital in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away in the early morning hours of August 11, 2009, at the age of 88, with her family at her bedside.

Condolences poured in from around the world upon the news of Eunice Shriver's death. In particular, Special Olympians and their families expressed deep regret over her death, but great joy in the positive work that she did for the disabled. On August 11, 2009, President Obama released a statement expressing his condolences.

On January 18, 2011, her beloved husband, Sargent Shriver, passed away at the age of 95.

 

Political Career/Connections

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Eunice Kennedy Shriver never held poltical office, but has led a very poltical life, as befitting a Kennedy.

1960: Actively campaigned for her brother, John, as he successfully ran for President.

1970: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for the office of Maryland Governor

1972: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for Vice-President as the running mate to George McGovern. They lost to the Nixon/Agnew ticket.

1976: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for the Democrtic Party's Presidential nomination.

1992: Joined several other prominent Democrats in signing a public letter to the New York Times, in protest of the Democratic Party's pro-abortion plank in the party's official platform. This occurred during Bill Clinton's first campaign for President.

2003: Supported her son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his successful election to the governship of California.

2008: Joined other Kennedy family members on stage as her brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, vocally announced his support for Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination against Senator Hillary Clinton.

 

 

Links and Resources:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (official website)

Special Olympics (official website)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver-Wikipedia article

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development--History and overview

R(obert) Sargent Shriver: Papers (#214)-An Inventory of His Personal Papers, 1948-1976 In the John F. Kennedy Library, National Archives and Records Administration

J.F.K. Would Have Defended Bishops' Right to Fight Abortion--Letter to the New York Times from Eunice Kennedy Shriver, May 13, 1990

The Silent Kennedy--New York Times, January 10, 2005

Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Olympic Legacy--NPR, April 5, 2007

Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at 88--CNN, August 11, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Faithful Service--by Sally Quinn, Washington Post, August 11, 2009

Obama calls Shriver 'an extraordinary woman'--Forbes.com, August 11, 2009

 

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Family

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (September 6, 1888 – November 18, 1969)--Father

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy ( July 22, 1890–January 22, 1995)--Mother

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. (b. November 9, 1915) --Husband (wed on May 23, 1953)

Notable Ancestors

John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald--Grandfather and Mayor of Boston

Children

Robert Sargent Shriver III (b.April 28, 1954)--Son

Maria Owings Shriver (b. November 6, 1955) --Daughter, Married to Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger

Timothy Perry Shriver (August 29, 1959)--Son

Mark Kennedy Shriver (b. February 17, 1964) --Son

Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (b. July 20, 1965)--Son

Siblings

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (July 25, 1915–August 12, 1944)--

John F. "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917–November 22, 1963) --

Rosemary Kennedy (September 13, 1918 – January 7, 2005) --

Kathleen Kennedy (February 20, 1920 – May 13, 1948)--

Patricia Kennedy (May 6, 1924 – September 17, 2006) --

Robert F. "Bobby" Kennedy (November 20, 1925–June 6, 1968)--

Jean Kennedy (b. February 20, 1928) --

Edward "Ted" Kennedy ( February 22, 1932-August 25, 2009)---

Religion:

Roman Catholic

Education:

The Convent of the Sacred Heart, Roehampton, London, England

1944: BS in Social Science/Social Thought Stanford University

 

Career/Occupation:

1943-1945: U.S. Department of State, in the Special War Problems division. Eunice Kennedy worked in helping former prisoners of war readjust to civilian life.

1947-1948: Department of Justice as executive secretary for the National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency

1950: Social Worker at the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson, West Virginia

1951: Social Worker at the House of the Good Shepherd and for the Chicago Juvenile Court

1957: Executive Vice-President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Kennedy family to research the causes of disabilities and to improve the treatment of disabled people

1961: President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation

1981: Eunice Shriver began the Community of Caring program with the goal to reduce disabilities among babies born to teen mothers. Eventually, this led to the Community of Caring programs in 1,200 public and private schools from 1990 to 2006.

 

Political Career:

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Eunice Kennedy Shriver never held poltical office, but has led a very poltical life, as befitting a Kennedy.

1960: Actively campaigned for her brother, John, as he successfully ran for President.

1970: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for the office of Maryland Governor

1972: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for Vice-President as the running mate to George McGovern. They lost to the Nixon/Agnew ticket.

1976: Eunice's husband, Sargent Shriver, ran for the Democrtic Party's Presidential nomination.

1992: Joined several other prominent Democrats in signing a public letter to the New York Times, in protest of the Democratic Party's pro-abortion plank in the party's official platform. This occurred during Bill Clinton's first campaign for President.

2003: Supported her son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his successful election to the governship of California.

2008: Joined other Kennedy family members on stage as her brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, vocally announced his support for Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination against Senator Hillary Clinton.

Clubs and Organizations (membership):

--Feminists for Life of America

--The Susan B. Anthony List

--Democrats for Life of America.

Links and Resources on Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (official website)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development--History and overview.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Olympic Legacy--NPR, April 5, 2007

J.F.K. Would Have Defended Bishops' Right to Fight Abortion--Letter to the New York Times from Eunice Kennedy Shriver, May 13, 1990

Eunice Kennedy Shriver-Wikipedia article

R(obert) Sargent Shriver: Papers (#214)-An Inventory of His Personal Papers, 1948-1976 In the John F. Kennedy Library, National Archives and Records Administration

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