LIVES | Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., 1915-2011

ShriverRober Sargent Shriver Jr. in the mid-1960s.

Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., a giant of the New Frontier and the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps, has died. He was 95.

Born in Westminster, Md. on Nov. 9, 1915, Shriver was a scion of one of that state’s oldest families. His ancestor, David Schriver, signed Maryland’s constitution in 1776. Educated at Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn., Shriver was graduated from Yale in 1938. While in New Haven, he was chairman of the Yale Daily News, a member of Delta Epsilon Kappa and of Scroll and Key. He went on to earn a law degree from Yale in 1941.

During World War II, Shriver served in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant. Returning to civilian life, he became an editor at Newsweek. He met his future wife, Eunice Kennedy, in 1946 and was subsequently hired by her father, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, to help manage Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Shriver and Kennedy married in 1953 in a service performed by Cardinal Francis Spelman at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Shrivers called Chicago home and Mr. Shriver dove into Democratic politics, so much so that he was considered as a candidate for Illinois governor in 1960. Those plans were dashed by the presidential candidacy of his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy. Shriver joined the campaign and, after the election, set about designing and then administering the Peace Corps, created by an executive order in March 1961.

Shriver led the Peace Corps into the Johnson administration and went on to design President Johnson’s War on Poverty. He later served as Ambassador to France from 1968 to 1970 and was the running mate for the doomed presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. His own presidential run in 1976 lasted only months.

In retirement from political life, Shriver was active as an attorney and as chairman of the Special Olympics. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. His wife, Eunice, predeceased him in 2009.

Here’s the Times obituary.

And here’s a gallery of images taken between 1961 and about 1966 from the LIFE archive:

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