Mourners at Holy Trinity Church remembered the life of R. Sargent Shriver on Friday, who died Tuesday in Maryland at the age of 95.
Shriver, a Peace Corps founder and former university commencement speaker with several personal ties to Georgetown, devoted his life to addressing issues of poverty and inequality in an effort to serve his country.
In 1964, Shriver gave a commencement address at Georgetown in which he emphasized students’ obligation to serve those less fortunate than themselves.
“This program of university service is rather the extension of education, the broadening of education, the deepening of education, which we must have if we are to find our way … into our full responsibilities of human beings,” he said.
“This is a special call to all those colleges and universities like Georgetown which stand in the shadow of the cross. For this war against poverty is America’s holy war, and if you who represent Catholic education in America fail to respond, you will deeply wrong yourselves, your country and your faith.”
Shriver received an honorary degree from the Law Center after delivering the address. In a statement released on Friday, University President John J. DeGioia praised Shriver’s legacy.
“His longstanding commitment to public service, through development of the Peace Corps, and to meeting the needs of the disenfranchised through his efforts to combat poverty improved the lives of individuals and communities around the world,” DeGioia said. “His determination and dedication to improving the lives of others will live on in the organizations he started and the many individuals he has inspired. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”
Shriver is survived by his five children, including Maria (CAS ’77), former ABC News anchor and California first lady, as well as Anthony (COL ’88), who founded the Best Buddies program after his time at Georgetown. Shriver is also remembered by 19 grandchildren, including current student Christina Schwarzenegger (COL ’13).
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1941, Shriver enlisted in the Navy in spite of his initial opposition to World War II. He married Eunice Kennedy in 1953 after a seven-year courtship and worked at her father’s business, JPK Enterprises.
In 1960, Shriver joined John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign team and later founded the Peace Corps at the President’s request. He subsequently served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, an agency that was at the heart of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
He helped to found the Special Olympics with his wife in 1968, ran for vice president in 1972 on George McGovern’s ticket and in 1994 he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.
His wake was held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church Friday and was open to the public.