I am saddened by the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (July 10, 1921 – August 11, 2009), a woman born to privilege who spent her life inspiring and making the world a better place for the underprivileged. She didn't sit on her Camelot throne barking orders to underlings and taking credit...she put herself in the thick of it and gave credit to others. She helped children. She gave back.
I did not know this great lady personally...I wish I did...but I did have a degree or two of separation to her. I was fortunate enough to meet her brother, Robert Kennedy Jr., when I was a little kid. To this day I remember being filled with awe as I shook his warm hand...he had that much charisma. And as a grown-up I had a brief producing partnership with her nephew, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, then met her son-in-law (yes, that son-in-law) in passing at a birthday party.
This is the eloquent statement on her passing from the Shriver family:
It's hard for us to believe:
the amazing Eunice Kennedy Shriver went home to God this morning at 2 a.m.
She was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others. For each of us, she often seemed to stop time itself - to run another Special Olympics games, to visit us in our homes, to attend to her own mother, her sisters and brothers, and to sail, tell stories, and laugh and serve her friends. How did she do it all?
Inspired by her love of God, her devotion to her family, and her relentless belief in the dignity and worth of every human life, she worked without ceasing - searching, pushing, demanding, hoping for change. She was a living prayer, a living advocate, a living center of power. She set out to change the world and to change us, and she did that and more. She founded the movement that became Special Olympics, the largest movement for acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in the history of the world. Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and they in turn are her living legacy.
We have always been honored to share our mother with people of good will the world over who believe, as she did, that there is no limit to the human spirit. At this time of loss, we feel overwhelmed by the gifts of prayer and support poured out to us from so many who loved her. We are together in our belief that she is now in heaven, rejoicing with her family, enjoying the fruits of her faith, and still urging us onward to the challenges ahead. Her love will inspire us to faith and service always.
She was forever devoted to the Blessed Mother. May she be welcomed now by Mary to the joy and love of life everlasting, in the certain truth that her love and spirit will live forever.
Please take a moment to visit Eunice Kennedy Shriver's website and listen to the short message she gave to the participants in the 1987 Special Olympics World Games in South Bend, Indiana.
An inspirational woman, indeed. My thoughts and prayers to her family.