August 14th, 2009
12:47 PM ET
5 years ago

Funeral mass to be held for Eunice Shriver

 Shriver, a champion of the disabled who founded the Special Olympics, died Tuesday at age 88.
Shriver, a champion of the disabled who founded the Special Olympics, died Tuesday at age 88.

HYANNIS, Massachusetts (CNN) - Family and close friends of Eunice Kennedy Shriver will attend a Friday morning funeral for the late sister of President John F. Kennedy.

Shriver, a champion of the disabled who founded the Special Olympics, died Tuesday at age 88.

An invitation-only funeral Mass will be held at Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church here, according to a statement from the family's spokesman Stephen Rivers.

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend Friday's service.

Before the Mass begins at 10 a.m. ET, Special Olympians will carry the Special Olympics torch into the church, the statement said. They will take part in a procession toward the church, followed by the hearse and the Shriver family who will be walking behind.

The funeral follows a public wake and prayer service on Thursday at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church in Centerville, Massachusetts.

Details about her private burial will not released until after Shriver is laid to rest.

Born on July 10, 1921, in Brookline, Massachusetts, Shriver was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She emerged from the long shadow of siblings John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Sen. Edward Kennedy as the founder of the Special Olympics, which started as a summer day camp in her back yard in 1962.

Today, 3.1 million people with mental disabilities participate in 228 programs in 170 nations, according to the Special Olympics.

"Eunice is now with God in heaven. My sister Jean and I, and our entire family, will miss her with all our hearts," Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, said on his Web site. "I know that our parents and brothers and sisters who have gone before are filled with joy to have her by their side again."

Her health began to fail in recent years, landing her in the hospital in 2005 after a minor stroke and hip fracture. She was hospitalized again in 2007 for an undisclosed ailment.

She is survived by her husband, R. Sargent Shriver Jr., who ran President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty in the 1960s and was Democrat George McGovern's running mate in the 1972 presidential election.

Other survivors include her daughter, Maria Shriver, California's first lady; and sons Robert Sargent Shriver III, Timothy Perry Shriver, Mark Kennedy Shriver, and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver.


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soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Gerald F.

    A very inspiring and good woman has been called home to rest. My condolences go out to Mrs Shriver's family at this time.

    August 14, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. katiec

    Whoops, sorry.
    Posted about Pain on wrong headline.
    Eunice Shriver was a wonderful person and did so much to
    show us the mentally challanged are a very special group
    of people.
    Her accomplishments will live on forever.

    August 14, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. Donald in CA

    What a grand caring lady. She was the best. Rest in Peace.

    August 14, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. DEB

    god bless

    August 14, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Bill in Illinois

    What a special lady she was. She did so much good for so many people and was always so gracious.

    May she rest in peace and may her family take comfort in knowing how loved she was by so many.

    August 14, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Niki Birdsflight

    Maria has talked openly about her father who has Alzheimer. I wonder if he realizes his wife is gone? The natural process of life is unfolding for us as we look at the family picture of the Kennedys. So many children, such interesting individuals with drive and ambition yet there is that twist of fate and all the tragedies. Only two are left now out of that picture. Where has the time gone?

    August 14, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Dennis

    I really believe what she accomplished with her life has had more of an impact than anything her brothers did.

    August 14, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Karen

    Eunice Shriver was a shining example for all of us! This GRAND lady
    certainly walked her talk! My sincerest thoughts to all of her family at this time. We need more people like her in this world. Thank you Eunice for all you gave us! God bless.

    August 14, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Deborah Tisdale

    When I saw Maria as a pallbearer, literally carrying her mother, it touched me deeply. May we all learn to carry our mothers, fathers, etc. when they need us. Blessings to you all.

    August 14, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. Kevin Handy

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver came from a very complex family. On the outside they were royalty and on the inside they have all the peccadilloes of royalty! Eunice Shriver could have sat on her fanny and never done a thing and no one would have thought a anything about it. Instead she asked what she could do to make the world a better place. She pestered her male counterparts to death and poked and prodded and schemed and dreamed. I think the lives of kids with mental challenges would be a whole lot different were it not for Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The incredible thing is that this women moved in a world where male dominance was even stronger. The working class takes equality for granted. But in that world, the world of movers and shakers, women were supposed to know their place. Eunice Kennedy knew her place – at the front of the line. She could have indeed been a Presidential candidate – but she asked a question that many politicians should ask themselves – where can I make the most difference? Being a politician means everyone can throw slings and arrows at you and get complimented for it. Look at Obama – here is a man that no matter what he does – he is bad and evil for certain segments of society. Forget racism – people are just plain mean right now. Eunice Shriver led us – she said – let's find a way to give people back dignity that have been robbed of it. That was Special Olympics, that was the Peace Corps, that was Head Start. Make no mistake "Shriver, Inc." was an incredible partnership. Sargent Shriver 'married up', even though he was from a storied Maryland Family himself. If anyone gets a chance, read "Sarge", you will grow to love these people as I did and admire them – for all their warts.

    August 14, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. bea

    My deepest condolences to the entire Shriver and Kennedy Families.
    Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, From him we came and to him we will return. Rest in Peace

    August 14, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Sheila Lange

    Always a heroine to me! I know you could have been President as well! But you chose a larger voice. My heartfelt appreciation for you, your husband, your children, and your family of origin for all given to us as a nation and as real people with stuggles and triumphs. MY PEACE TO YOU!!!!!

    August 14, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Marla

    I wish I knew her before she died. She was an amazing women. She really touched lives including mine. I have a handicaped brother who really felt whole when he played in the Special Olympics. I remember as a child feeling very comfortable saying that my brother partipates.

    August 14, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. A Woman with a Name

    Why is Eunice refered to as "Kennedy Sister" in the headline for this story?
    When Ed Kennedy passes, I bet the headline doesn't read "Kennedy Brother."
    Sexism is alive and well – Good Grief! Give the woman the respect she deserves.

    August 14, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. diane,from Johnstown PA

    I have been a Kennedy fan my entire life.....Mrs. Shriver has always been a person to admire. ANd a self-less champiion of the disabled. She deserves heaaven and eternity wit her family JFK has his sister near him now.

    Condolences to this Kennedy SHriver Family.

    Maria has shown great love and admiration to her Mother in her life.

    God Bless.

    August 14, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. karla crowley

    Maria Shrivers euology was so touching, it made me laugh, and made me cry. Eunice Shriver was an amazing woman, may she restin peace.

    August 14, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Carrie Smith

    Mrs. Kennedy Shriver was an AMAZING woman! I can only hope to be half the woman she was. My sympathies go to the Shriver family at this time.

    August 14, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Daisy

    Rest in peace, Eunice. And rest assured that your works will continue to touch the lives of many...

    August 14, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. T'SAH from Virginia

    May she rest in PEACE and God bless the family during these difficult times...

    August 14, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Jewels

    Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a mentor to all of us. Her "specialty" may have been the mentally disabled, but what she spent her life doing was getting involved and helping others. Something we could/should learn from. If all of us participated in society like Eunice did, just maybe we would not have the problems in this country - or the world for that matter - that we do. All of us should challenge ourselves, our family, our neighbors to participate in society at such a high standard!!

    August 14, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Jim

    God Bless the Kennedy-Shriver Family.

    August 14, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. John Kellermeyer

    We are called to create heaven on earth for ourselves and those around us while we live, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver did just that.

    Now, having accomplished that and more, she's moved to the Dimension of Thought that reflects her heart and the love that lived there.

    Well done, Mrs Shriver.

    Well done.

    August 14, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Karen

    What a wonderful legacy she left this world and the special children.

    August 14, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. Otto

    God Bless! There is nothing I can add to the great life she help to make for those less fortunate. Rest in peace!

    August 14, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Julie

    A gem of a human heart. We will forever see her mark on our collective. We gratefully received the gift of her presence. Thank you Lord.

    August 14, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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