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R.I.P. Eunice Kennedy Shriver


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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090811/ap_on_...kennedy_shriver

BOSTON – Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the presidential sister who founded the Special Olympics and helped demonstrate that the mentally disabled can triumph on the field of competition and lead rich and productive lives outside the walls of institutions, died Tuesday at age 88.

Shriver had suffered a series of strokes in recent years and died at a hospital on Cape Cod in the company of her husband, her five children and her 19 grandchildren, her family said.

"She understood deeply the lesson our mother and father taught us: Much is expected of those to whom much has been given," said her sole surviving brother, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who is battling a brain tumor.

She was also the sister of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; the wife of 1972 vice presidential candidate R. Sargent Shriver; the mother of former NBC newswoman Maria Shriver; and the mother-in-law of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Shriver was credited with helping to bring the mentally disabled into the mainstream and transforming America's view of them from institutionalized patients to friends, neighbors and athletes.

Her efforts were inspired in part by the struggles of her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary, who was given a lobotomy at age 23 and spent the rest of her life in an institution.

At the time, those with mental retardation were often a secret source of shame to their families and were quietly put away in institutions, out of sight and out of mind.

Shriver revealed her sister's condition to the nation during her brother's presidency in a 1962 article for the Saturday Evening Post.

"The truth is that 75 to 85 percent of the retarded are capable of becoming useful citizens with the help of special education and rehabilitation," Shriver wrote. "Another 10 percent can learn to make small contributions, not involving book learning, such as mowing a lawn or washing dishes."

Realizing they were far more capable of playing sports than the experts said, Shriver in 1968 started what would become the world's largest athletic competition for the mentally disabled. The first Special Olympics — a two-day event in Chicago — drew more than 1,000 participants from 26 states and Canada.

Now more than 3 million athletes in more than 160 countries participate in Special Olympics. The games have given rise to countless uplifting stories of success against great odds.

"She believed that people with intellectual disabilities could — individually and collectively — achieve more than anyone thought possible. This much she knew with unbridled faith and certainty," said her son Timothy, chairman of the Special Olympics.

President Barack Obama said Shriver will be remembered as "as a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and as an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation — and our world — that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit."

Former Special Olympics athlete Kester Edwards credited Shriver and the games with helping him "find a place."

"Mrs. Shriver wasn't making cars, she wasn't selling houses, she was changing human lives. She taught me to accept me as I am," said Edwards, 35, who works as an athlete coordinator at Special Olympics headquarters in Washington and was an athlete from 1981 to 1999.

Shriver was born in Brookline, Mass., the fifth of nine children to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She earned a sociology degree from Stanford University in 1943 after graduating from a British boarding school while her father served as ambassador to England.

Her sister Rosemary learned to read and write with the help of special tutors and for a while had a lively social life of tea dances and trips to Europe. She and Eunice used to swim and sail together.

But as Rosemary got older, her father worried his daughter's condition would lead her into situations that could damage the family's reputation, and he authorized a lobotomy in the hope of calming her mood swings. She ended up in worse condition and lived out the rest of her days in an institution, dying in 2005.

Eunice was a social worker at a women's prison in Alderson, W.Va., and worked with the juvenile court in Chicago in the 1950s before taking over the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation with the goal of improving the treatment of the mentally disabled. The foundation was named for her oldest brother, who was killed in World War II.

When JFK was in the White House, Eunice successfully pressed for efforts to help the mentally disabled. In 1961, the president signed a bill she championed to form the first President's Committee on Mental Retardation — then handed his pen to her as a keepsake.

In 1953, she married R. Sargent Shriver. He became JFK's first director of the Peace Corps, was George McGovern's running mate in 1972, and ran for president himself briefly in 1976.

She was the recipient of numerous honors, including the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she received in 1984. Well into her 70s, she remained a daily presence at the Special Olympics headquarters.

With her death, Jean Kennedy Smith becomes the last surviving Kennedy daughter.

"When the full judgment on the Kennedy legacy is made — including JFK's Peace Corps and Alliance for Progress, Robert Kennedy's passion for civil rights and Ted Kennedy's efforts on health care, workplace reform and refugees — the changes wrought by Eunice Shriver may well be seen as the most consequential," Harrison Rainie, author of "Growing Up Kennedy," wrote in U.S. News & World Report in 1993.

Survivors include her husband, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003, and the couple's children: Maria, who is married to Schwarzenegger; Robert, a city councilman in Santa Monica, Calif.; Timothy; Mark, an executive at the charity Save the Children; and Anthony, founder and chairman of Best Buddies International, a volunteer organization for the mentally disabled.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

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http://www.eunicekennedyshriver.org/articles/article/171

Shriver's family issued a statement upon her death,

"It's hard for us to believe: the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver went home to God this morning at 2 a.m.

She was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others. For each of us, she often seemed to stop time itself - to run another Special Olympics games, to visit us in our homes, to attend to her own mother, her sisters and brothers, and to sail, tell stories, and laugh and serve her friends. How did she do it all?

Inspired by her love of God, her devotion to her family, and her relentless belief in the dignity and worth of every human life, she worked without ceasing - searching, pushing, demanding, hoping for change. She was a living prayer, a living advocate, a living center of power. She set out to change the world and to change us, and she did that and more. She founded the movement that became Special Olympics, the largest movement for acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in the history of the world. Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and they in turn are her living legacy.

We have always been honored to share our mother with people of good will the world over who believe, as she did, that there is no limit to the human spirit. At this time of loss, we feel overwhelmed by the gifts of prayer and support poured out to us from so many who loved her. We are together in our belief that she is now in heaven, rejoicing with her family, enjoying the fruits of her faith, and still urging us onward to the challenges ahead. Her love will inspire us to faith and service always.

She was forever devoted to the Blessed Mother. May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting, in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever."

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This morning I happened to read an obituary of the lady,a person I knew nothing about.After reading what was written about her I have too say that she was a hell of a human being.I'm sure a lot of people's lives have been made more endurable by some of the works that she undertook and that can't be a bad way to be remembered.R.I.P.

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