Robert “Sargent” Shriver, the father of former California first lady Maria Shriver, a founder of the Peace Corps and the force behind an array of organizations that aided millions of America’s poor, disabled and disadvantaged, died Tuesday in Maryland. He was 95.
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Mr. Shriver’s death came after an 8-year-long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease that sparked intensive advocacy efforts championed by his daughter and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who sought to boost attention on a debilitating disease affecting millions of Americans and their families.
“He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment.” Mr. Shriver’s family said in a statement. “He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family.”
Mr. Shriver married into America’s foremost political family of the 20th Century when he married Eunice Kennedy Shriver – the sister of John, Robert and Edward Kennedy.
This week, Mr. Shriver entered a hospital in Bethesda, Md., surrounded by his family. In 2003, the Shriver family announced that he suffered from Alzheimer’s. His wife, who founded the Special Olympics, died in 2009 at the age of 88.
During Mr. Shriver’s struggle with the illness, Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver pushed for more public discussion of the disease and stem-cell research.
Alzheimer’s not only robbed Mr. Shriver of his memories of his family but also his memories of his role in the public eye as a key Democratic Party leader, former Ambassador to France, and a force who touched millions of lives.
While Mr. Shriver was best known for founding and directing the Peace Corps, he also put his stamp on dozens of other organizations that aided scores of people in need of economic and educational aide in the U.S. and beyond.