POTOMAC, Md. (AP) — R. Sargent Shriver was honored Saturday as much for his passion for helping others as his loving hugs and enjoyment of baseball.
Shriver, who fulfilled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s campaign promise by starting the Peace Corps, developed the aid organization into an international force. Others who have worked to help others through charities were among hundreds honoring Shriver at a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family’s church in Potomac, Md.
Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, U2 frontman Bono and singer Wyclef Jean were among those in attendance, along with members of the Kennedy and Shriver families.
One by one, Shriver’s grandchildren read short remembrances about their grandfather, recalling his passion for helping people, his hugs and his love of baseball.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington told Shriver’s grandchildren to live with the same courage and fortitude of Shriver and his late wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver Kennedy. Wuerl spoke of Shriver’s legacy and belief that the world could be filled with peace, compassion and love.
“Ask your parents to tell you stories. Read what your grandfather has written,” Wuerl said. “When you think of him,
rejoice in the heritage he has given you.”
Shriver’s son, Anthony Shriver, welcomed the guests before the Mass began, cracking jokes and honoring his father.
“He loved all people, all different types of people from all different backgrounds,” Anthony Shriver said.
And he recalled one of his last conversations with his father. He said his father told him: “You tell Cardinal Wuerl to make Eunice a saint!” The crowd erupted in laughter.
Wyclef Jean played piano and sang “All the Ends of the Earth” as guests including the Shriver family clapped along. Later, Vanessa Williams sang “Soon and Very Soon.”
A businessman and lawyer descended from a prominent Maryland family, Shriver helped his late wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, run the organization that allows disabled people to participate in sports. She died in 2009 at age 88. The couple had 19 grandchildren.
Shriver will be buried late Saturday in the same cemetery as his wife in Hyannis, Mass.
Known as “Sarge,” Shriver helped fulfill one of President Kennedy’s campaign promises to start the Peace Corps and ended up building an international institution. He later ran the War on Poverty, part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Shriver was former Sen. George McGovern’s running mate in the 1972 presidential election, but the Democrats lost in a landslide to President Richard M. Nixon. In 1994, Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)