On Tuesday, January 18, R. Sargent Shriver passed away at the age of 95. Mr. Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps, serving in that post from 1961 to 1966. His legacy of service is remembered by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Aaron Williams, the director of the Peace Corps.
I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time.
His life was a full and magnanimous one spent enthusiastically in the service of others. It was Sarge who founded the Peace Corps at a time when others were skeptical of U.S. motivations abroad. It was Sarge who led the war on poverty at a time when the poor were a forgotten “other America.” It was Sarge who, with his dear wife of 56 years Eunice, spent decades fighting for the rights and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. He spent his life fighting intensely for those who needed it most.
Sarge was a national treasure, but he was also a dear friend. He helped me in my first Senate campaign in 1972, coming to Delaware for the last major event before the election, and unquestionably giving me the final push I needed to win.
I owe Sarge a great debt of gratitude for all he did for me, for my family, and for our nation. It is with fond memories and a heavy heart that Jill and I offer our condolences to his children Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family, as they mourn Sarge’s passing—while also celebrating a long life filled with the love, respect, and devotion of those of us lucky enough to know him.
The entire Peace Corps community is deeply saddened by the passing of Sargent Shriver. Shriver was a distinguished public servant and a visionary leader who accomplished much in his life of public service, but to those of us in the Peace Corps family, he served as our founder, friend, and guiding light for the past 50 years. Because of his determination and vision, more than 200,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 countries, promoting world peace and friendship. Though he is no longer with us, his legacy of idealism will live on in the work of current and future Peace Corps volunteers. Today, Peace Corps volunteers and people worldwide who have been touched by the Peace Corps grieve with Shriver’s family and friends.
See a few photos courtesy of the Peace Corps below.