Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 88, has died. According to Associated Press, Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away at Cape Cod Hospital surrounded by her husband, five children, and nineteen grandchildren.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the daughter of Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She was the wife of Robert Sargent Shriver and the mother of Robert Sargent Shriver III, Maria Owings Shriver, Timothy Perry Shriver, Mark Kennedy Shriver, and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver is also survived by brother Sen. Edward Kennedy and former US Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith. She was the sister of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the fifth of nine children. She is also predeceased by bothers Joseph and sisters Rosemary, Kathleen, and Patricia.
The family released the following statement. “She was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others.”
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dies at 88: Personal Life
Eunice Mary Kennedy was born July 10, 1921. She was educated in Roehampton, London, England before attending Stanford University where she earned a degree in Social Science/Social Thought. She then worked for the Special War Problems with the US Department of State, worked as a social worker for the Federal Institution for Women in West Virginia. Eunice Kennedy Shriver later worked with the House of the Good Shepherd and the Chicago Juvenile Court.
On May 23, 1953, Eunice Kennedy married Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue New York City. Sargent Shriver has served as Peace Corps director under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and US Ambassador to France under Johnson and Nixon. In 1972, Sargent Shriver was also the Vice Presidential running mate for George McGovern. Sagrent Shriver is 93.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dies at 88: Career and Work
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was one of the more politically active Kennedy women. She was a lifelong advocate for children and disabled Americans. Her work was pivotal in helping to remove the stigma of mental retardation. Her mentally-challenged sister Rosemary Kennedy was an inspiration for her work.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s work running a summer camp in Maryland led to the founding of the Special Olympics in the 1960s as she realized that special needs children were far more capable of sports than experts had previously thought. In 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver also founded the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She founded the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Community Center for Caring in 1968. In 1984, President Reagan awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with those with mental retardation.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was primarily a Democrat, though she did support son-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bid for Governor. Eunice and Sargent Shriver were consistently pro-life throughout their careers. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a member of Democrats for Life in America, Feminists for Life in America, and the Susan B. Anthony List.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dies at 88: Kennedys and Longevity
While Eunice Kennedy lived a relatively long life, the Kennedys have a mixed bag when it comes to longevity. Her mother Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was one of the longest surviving presidential relatives, living to age 104. Rose Kennedy’s father and mother lived to 87 and 98 respectively.
Other Kennedy family members have not been so lucky. While JFK and RFK are the most famous tragedies, others have had their lives prematurely cut. Joseph Kennedy Jr, a US Navy Aviator was killed in a Naval airplane crash in 1944 at age 29. Kathleen Kennedy died at 28 in a airplane crash in France. JFK Jr. was killed in a plane crash at age 38 while Michael Kennedy died at 39 in a skiing accident.
Rosemary Kennedy lived a relatively long life at age 86, but a lobotomy had left her mentally incapacitated at 23. While this was certainly a tragedy, the one positive aspect was that it gave Eunice Kennedy Shriver personal experience and motivation in her own tremendous life’s work.
JFK’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at 88, Mark Pratt, Yahoo! News via Associated Press