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Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dies at 88


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, has died at 88:

"She is survived by her husband, Sargent Shriver. Shriver was the middle child of nine born to Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife, Rose. Her siblings include John F. Kennedy, who was elected president in 1960 and assassinated in 1963, Robert, a New York senator whose presidential bid ended when he was assassinated in 1968, and Senator Edward Kennedy."

Said the family: "Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe and they in turn are her living legacy."

Arnoldeunice California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement:

"Eunice was the light of our family. She meant so much, not only to us, but to our country and to the world. She was a pioneer who worked tirelessly for social and scientific advances that have changed the lives of millions of developmentally disabled people all over the world. Inspired by her faith in God and her love of her sister, Rosemary, she was on a life-long mission to expand opportunities for those with intellectual challenges and to prove that they are capable of great achievements. Apart from her family, her greatest legacy is the Special Olympics, which started as a summer camp in her backyard in 1962, and has grown into a global movement and organization that has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Eunice was the devoted mother of five children, including my dear wife, Maria. My mother-in-law changed my life by raising such a fantastic daughter, and by putting me on the path to service, starting with drafting me as a coach for the Special Olympics. I will miss her every day, but I know her spirit endures through her amazing children and grandchildren, and through the many lives she changed."

Above portrait by David Lenz, 2009, National Portrait Gallery.

Shriver speaks about her life and legacy at the Kennedy Presidential Library in 2007,

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  1. OMG....So sad. May she blessed for all she's done for disabled people who are a part of The Special Olympics.

    My condolences to Maria, Bobby and Sargent Shriver! :-{

    Posted by: Pinky Porkchops | Aug 11, 2009 6:47:35 AM

  2. She was one of the good ones.

    Posted by: JT | Aug 11, 2009 7:36:16 AM

  3. A wonderful human being and a great American.

    Posted by: Hank | Aug 11, 2009 8:55:49 AM

  4. Farewell, Mrs. Shriver and thank you for all that you have done for all of us.

    My condolences the Kennedy and the Shriver families.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Aug 11, 2009 10:19:01 AM

  5. What an incredible woman and what an honor and joy it was to share the Earth during her time on it.

    Thank you Eunice and my sympathies to the family.

    Posted by: Disgusted With The Lies! | Aug 11, 2009 11:29:21 AM

  6. she was a grand lady and one classy dame.

    Posted by: alguien | Aug 11, 2009 11:39:04 AM

  7. As we recall Eunice & her Special Olympics, let us not forget that The Special Olympics sued the Gay Olympics people. Hence the name change "the Gay Games".
    Guess Eunice didn't want to be associated w the faggots.

    Posted by: mike shackleford | Aug 11, 2009 11:52:33 AM

  8. you sure about that shackleford?

    Posted by: ken | Aug 11, 2009 12:10:00 PM

  9. Mike, according to the Gay Games entry on Wikipedia, they were sued by the International Olympic Committee and the US Olympic Committee. To my knowledge, the Special Olympics aren't directly associated with the IOC other than being the only organization that the IOC allows to use the term "Olympics".

    Posted by: Anthony | Aug 11, 2009 12:21:37 PM

  10. Like most of the Kennedys, Eunice possessed many impressive personal qualities, like courage, perseverance and loyalty. She seems like a classy lady, and a little bossy in that endearing Kate Hepburn way. Can't say I'm a fan of the family, but for her work with the Special Olympics, I'll regard her with fondness.

    I wonder though if the full story of Rosemary Kennedy -- Eunice's mentally retarded sister -- will ever get out. Reading up on her, I still can't figure out if she was just a slow adult who was then incapacitated by an early lobotomy, or intellectually disabled from the start. Or something else?

    Posted by: Terry | Aug 11, 2009 12:46:18 PM

  11. Mike, just shut up. Her family has always fought for gay rights. Get a clue in your head.

    Rest in peace, Eunice. Thanks for your hard work for some of the most misunderstood people.

    Posted by: KFLO | Aug 11, 2009 12:53:56 PM

  12. I always thought that she was the "decent" Kennedy. R.I.P..

    I too would like to hear poor Rosemary's story. Not for gossip, but, to understand the history of how this country dealt with mental illness not so very long ago. I've watched "Suddenly Last Summer" and "Frances" and the whole thought of a lobotomy is something that actually frightens me. It really hits a nerve for some reason.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Aug 11, 2009 1:02:25 PM

  13. The one Kennedy (not by marriage) left who was not an amoral lout. She did wonderful things to encourage disabled individuals.

    Rest in peace. And it's horrible what happened to Rosemary.

    Posted by: Attmay | Aug 11, 2009 1:14:33 PM

  14. Andy et al-

    Thanks for posting this... This woman meant a great deal to me, my family and the family we've built in the Special Olympics community!


    Posted by: Mikey Fig | Aug 11, 2009 1:28:12 PM

  15. Congratulations on a life of dignity, compassion,and grace.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Aug 11, 2009 2:41:04 PM

  16. Derek Washington : Well it's certainly a frightening subject. I didn't see "Frances" (but I know about Frances Farmer) but "Suddenly Last Summer" certainly made it all seem very threatening. And yes, mental illness has certainly been treated in the U.S. (and other countries) in ways we see as so incompetent today, and not too long ago.

    Posted by: JT | Aug 11, 2009 3:07:28 PM

  17. What a life well-lived!! Rest in peace, Ms. Shriver.

    Back in the 1970's, my mother and father were on a plane. Seated across the aisle from them was a couple, a little older than my parents. My father kept thinking he had met the man, but he just couldn't quite remember his name. Not wanting to appear to snub someone he had previously met, my father extended his hand, introduced himself and said "I know we've met before, and I apologize, but I just can't remember your name." The man across the aisle reached out, shook my father's hand and introduced himself and his wife by saying "Actually, I don't think we've ever met, but I'm Sargent Shriver and this is my wife Eunice." My father, realizing his mistake, was mortified. But apparently the Shrivers liked him because by the end of the flight they had extended a standing invitation for my parents to visit them if they ever found themselves in Hyannis, MA. To my great dismay, my parents never took them up on that offer.

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 11, 2009 3:16:13 PM

  18. Well Peterparker aren't you just special!? The personal anecdotes by people alongside all of the necessity of people to comment on how Eunice was one of the "good" Kennedys is so bewildering. Who are you people? Really.

    Posted by: Alex | Aug 11, 2009 5:03:57 PM

  19. What's the matter with you, Alex? I thought Peter Parker's anecdote was cool.

    Posted by: JT | Aug 11, 2009 5:47:30 PM

  20. @Alex: Perhaps what is missing from my anecdote is something that I really didn't think needed to be spelled out--that the Shrivers must have been exceedingly gracious people. Here they were, a Kennedy alongside a contender for Vice President, both at the height of their renown, and some rube on an airplane doesn't even recognize them. Rather than being offended or standoffish as SO many people in the public eye would be today, they were kind and the point that they said "Hey, drop by if you are ever in the neighborhood". It really speaks not only to the fact that it was a different time, but also to the inescapable conclusion that Sargent Shriver and his now late wife Eunice must have been exceptionally considerate and kind.

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 11, 2009 9:39:33 PM

  21. I hope she rest in peace..

    Posted by: mdeals | Aug 12, 2009 12:00:18 AM

  22. Godspeed, Mrs Shriver, Godspeed. Thank you for all the work you have done for those who were born, or made to be, differently-abeled than the majority. Your courage reminds us all that it only takes one loud voice to make change happen.

    May all that knew and loved Mrs. Shriver have peace and comfort in their hearts. She was truly an amazing person.

    Posted by: Double N | Aug 12, 2009 2:48:28 AM

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