Published Online: January 25, 2011
Published in Print: January 26, 2011, as Sargent Shriver, Public-Service Advocate, Dies


Sargent Shriver, Public-Service Advocate, Dies

Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps, greets students in Turkey during a worldwide tour in 1964. His work often involved education.
—Paul Conklin/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images-File

Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., an architect of several national education and social programs, including Head Start, died Jan. 18. He was 95 and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Shriver ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket in 1972 and served as the U.S. ambassador to France, but he was best known as the first director of the Peace Corps, a job he held under President John F. Kennedy, his brother-in-law.

His career in public service also included overseeing President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty” as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. That work encompassed such initiatives as the Head Start preschool program, the Job Corps, and Upward Bound for aspiring college students.

Mr. Shriver was a lifelong advocate for volunteer service, particularly programs that encouraged students and others to work in impoverished communities, both overseas and in the United States.

“Sargent Shriver’s commitment to improving the welfare of society’s most underserved, his pioneering spirit, and his vision of the power of engaging citizens in service resulted in the creation of not one, but several of the most impactful institutions in the world,” said Wendy Kopp, the chief executive officer of Teach For America, which recruits recent college graduates to work in high-need urban and rural schools.

Mr. Shriver also served as the president of the Chicago school board in the 1950s and later as the president of the Special Olympics, founded by his wife, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver. President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nations highest civilian honor, in 1994.

Vol. 30, Issue 18, Page 4

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