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We were deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of our dear friend and father to Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark and Anthony, Robert "Sargent" Shriver. Sarge was a larger than life individual who personified the American spirit and dedicated his life to perfecting it and uplifting its citizens.
In his 50 years of public service, which was ignited during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Sarge served in numerous key roles including ambassador to France, director of the office of economic opportunity, vice-presidential candidate, founding director of the Peace Corps and the face of the era’s numerous War on Poverty programs.
The greatness of our nation’s most beloved presidents is often sparked by extraordinary deputies that inspire, sharpen and demand greatness. These men and women work passionately and tirelessly on behalf of the American people on the sidelines of history - their names rarely make headlines but their work shapes the direction of our nation.
This was the story of Sargent Shriver. Some of America’s most cherished programs and institutions - providing access to the American dream to those who otherwise may have thought it out of reach - were created or guided by Sarge, including AmeriCorps VISTA, Head Start, Job Corps, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, Legal Services, Neighborhood Health Services, and, of course, the Peace Corps.
Sarge was a staunch believer in the importance of service as a route to building long-lasting peace in the world, and as a result created the Peace Corps, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year as it continues its mission today of promoting world peace and friendship by sending Americans to live and serve in developing countries.
Not to be forgotten is the incredibly important work of Sarge as President of the Special Olympics, founded by his late wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Sarge, Eunice and their son Tim worked fervently to transform the perception and end discrimination of children with special needs - important work that Tim continues today. It is no accident that Sarge and Eunice’s greatest legacy, possibly even larger than the indelible impact of the institutions they founded, lies within their extraordinary children. These children born into one of the most famed and successful families of our time could have dedicated their lives to anything, but they all chose service:
- Bobby—Mayor of Santa Monica, CA, international HIV/AIDS activist and champion of the environment.
- Maria—most recently the groundbreaking First Lady of California, whose commitment to civic engagement led to the state’s first cabinet-level director of service and changed the way the nation viewed the strategic importance of service to solving problems.
- Tim—the accomplished and celebrated leader of Special Olympics who grew the organization from a small, domestic dream to an international institution that brings hope, inspiration and critical services to millions.
- Mark—member of the Maryland House of Delegates and Managing Director of US Programs for the charity Save the Children.
- Anthony—Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International, which he created to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Sarge’s good friend and colleague, former Peace Corps Director and U.S. Senator Harris Wofford summed up Sarge best, “His enthusiasm, his idealism were unadulterated.”
We hope you'll join us in celebrating Sarge's tremendous contribution and inspiration, and take a moment to learn more about his legacy by watching the great tribute shared in the video included below.
Sargent Shriver was a truly remarkable leader whose real legacy lives on in the family he raised, the friends he made, and the movements he helped create. These, combined with his abiding faith, were the hallmarks of a life well led. Steve and I, along with the entire Case Foundation team, offer our sincere condolences to the Shriver family.