Special Olympics Mourns the Loss of Sargent Shriver

January 18, 2011

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. died this afternoon at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD, surrounded by his family.  He was 95 years old.  Near him at the time of his death were his five children: Robert “Bobby” Sargent Shriver III, Maria Owings Shriver, Timothy Perry Shriver, Mark Kennedy Shriver and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver, as well as their spouses and all of his 19 grandchildren.

Husband of 56 years to the late founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Sargent Shriver was Chairman of the Board Emeritus for Special Olympics and served as president of the Special Olympics Movement from 1984 through 1996 before his son, Timothy P. Shriver took the helm as current Chairman and CEO. Sargent Shriver also served Special Olympics as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1990 to 2003. As an international lawyer and administrator, ambassador and an advocate for the poor and powerless, Sargent Shriver compiled an unparalleled record of public service at every tier, from the local level to the world community.

“Sargent Shriver was a pioneer for our movement, helping us establish and build programs in the far corners of the globe,” said Special Olympics President and COO Brady Lum. “Today we celebrate the life of a man who saw the athletes of Special Olympics as ambassadors for peace. We honor a man who was able to transform the roots of violence and discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities by promoting Special Olympics throughout the world and we will continue his legacy by providing opportunities for people and communities to unite in harmony through sport.”

Shriver’s greatest legacy to the Special Olympics organization was the establishment of the Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers.  These Special Olympics athletes serve four-year terms as spokespeople for the global Special Olympics Movement. This current class of Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers will continue Shriver’s commitment to promoting a spirit of peace and unity across the world.

Sargent Shriver was born November 9, 1915 in Westminster, Maryland. He attended Yale University in 1934 and during college, Shriver was the senior editor of the Yale Daily News. Shriver enrolled in Yale Law School in 1938, receiving his L.L.B. in 1941 and went on to serve five years in active duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

In 1953, Shriver married Eunice Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy. Shriver’s commitment to public service made him one of the most effective leaders of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s. He inspired, directed, or founded numerous social programs and organizations, including Head Start, VISTA, Job Corps, Community Action, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, Special Olympics, the National Center on Poverty Law, Legal Services, and the Peace Corps, serving as the program’s first director under President Kennedy. Shriver also ran the War on Poverty during Johnson’s tenure as president. Shriver also served as U.S. ambassador to France from 1968 to 1970.

In 1972, Shriver was nominated by the Democratic Party as a candidate for Vice President with presidential candidate Senator George McGovern in the campaign against President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. In 197 8, Shriver began the Kennedy Institute of Ethics “Trialogue” between leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions, the first such forum for discussion since medieval Spain.

Shriver is survived by his five children; and his 19 grandchildren who range in age from one to twenty-four years.

Out of respect for the privacy of the family, no interviews are being granted at this time.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute www.sargentshriver.org. Condolence cards may be sent to Special Olympics headquarters: 1133 19th Street NW, Washington DC, 20036. Please visit www.sargentshriver.org to share a tribute online.

Funeral details and other memorial information will be posted at www.sargentshriver.org as they become available.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3.5 million athletes in 226 Programs in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.

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CONTACT:
Mandy Murphy
Special Olympics
+1-202-824-0227     
mamurphy@speciaolympics.org

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