Eunice Kennedy Shriver dies at age 88

Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:20pm EDT
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By Ross Kerber

HYANNIS, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who emerged from a powerful male-dominated political family to found the Special Olympics and become a leading advocate of the mentally disabled, died on Tuesday at the age of 88.

Shriver, the sister of former President John F. Kennedy, died about 2 a.m./0600 GMT at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, the Massachusetts town on Cape Cod synonymous with the Kennedy dynasty.

"Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe and they in turn are her living legacy," her family said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised Shriver's Special Olympics work and called her "an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation -- and our world -- that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit."

In March, Obama apologized for comparing his bowling skills to those of Special Olympics participants during an appearance on "The Tonight Show" television program.

Shriver was married to Sargent Shriver, whose long public service included starting the Peace Corps under President Kennedy. Sargent, 93, a former vice presidential candidate, suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

She was born July 10, 1921, the middle child of the nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and his wife, Rose.

As a child, she wanted to compete athletically against her brothers, including John, elected president in 1960 and assassinated in 1963; Robert, a New York senator whose presidential bid ended with his assassination in 1968; and Edward, who has served as a senator from Massachusetts for more than 45 years.   Continued...

<p>Eunice Kennedy Shriver is greeted by her brother, the late President John F. Kennedy, during a bill signing at the White House. Reuters/Courtesy of the Special Olympics/Handout</p>