Sargent Shriver -- the first director of the Peace Corps, a vice presidential nominee, and advocate for the poor -- has passed away at the age of 95. He married into the Kennedy family in 1953 taking Eunice Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy, as his wife. He is survived by five children and 19 grandchildren.
President Barack Obama called Mr. Shriver "one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long career," said President Obama, "[Mr. Shriver] came to embody the idea of public service." Mr. Shriver was nominated as Democrat George McGovern's Vice Presidential running mate in 1972. Mr. Shriver also worked alongside President Lyndon Johnson to start the War on Poverty and helped create early education for poor children and affordable legal services to the poor.
Of his many enduring contributions, Mr. Shriver will perhaps be best remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps. On March 1st 1961, President Kennedy established the Peace Corps, and on March 4th, he named Mr. Shriver the agency's first director. By December 1961, there were more than 500 Peace Corps volunteers serving in nine host countries, with an additional 200 Americans in training for service across the U.S. By 1963, Mr. Shriver was leading an agency with more than 6,500 volunteers serving in nearly 50 countries. "The Peace Corps," said Mr. Shriver, "represents some, if not all of the best virtues in this society. It stands for everything that America has ever stood for. It stands for everything we believe in and hope to achieve in the world." Mr. Shriver served as director until February 26, 1966.
Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams paid tribute to Sargent Shriver's contributions to the Peace Corps: "To those of us in the Peace Corps family, he served as our founder, friend, and guiding light for the past 50 years. Because of his determination and vision, more than 200,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 countries, promoting world peace and friendship."
Sargent Shriver's loss, said President Obama, "will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home."