In Passing: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

A true pioneer in the world of service, Mrs. Shriver passed away early this morning at the age of 88. She founded the Special Olympics more than 40 years ago and the family remained leaders of the organization and the movement for the rights of the disabled. There will be a host of other articles on this remarkable woman. We offer here coverage from, with an excerpt below. Please see as well the following article about Mrs. Shriver and the Special Olympics.


(CNN) — Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of President John F. Kennedy and a champion of the disabled who founded the Special Olympics, died Tuesday, the Special Olympics said. She was 88.

Born on July 10, 1921, in Brookline, Massachusetts, Shriver was the fifth of nine children to Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She emerged from the long shadow of siblings John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as the founder of the Special Olympics, which started as a summer day camp in her backyard in 1962.

Today, 3.1 million people with mental disabilities participate in 228 programs in 170 nations, according to the Special Olympics.

“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,” the Shriver family said Tuesday in a statement.

“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.”

No final decision has been made on funeral arrangements, a source close to the family said.

Shriver’s husband, R. Sargent Shriver, and her five children and their spouses and all of her 19 grandchildren were with her when she died, the Special Olympics said in a statement.

We are tremendously grateful for the extreme outpouring of support and prayer from the public as we honor our beloved founder,” Brady Lum, Special Olympics president and chief operating officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Today we celebrate the life of a woman who had the vision to create our movement. It is an enormous loss, but I know we can rest assured that her legacy will live on through her family, friends, and the millions of people around the world who she touched and transformed.”

Even before launching the Special Olympics in 1968, Shriver had established a reputation as an advocate for the disenfranchised and a trailblazer for the rights of the disabled through a variety of roles in the private and public sector.

She also persuaded the Kennedy family to go public with one of its most guarded secrets. In September 1962, Shriver wrote an article about her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary, which was published in The Saturday Evening Post. (The article continues at