Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 13:19 UK

JFK's sister Eunice Shriver dies


A look back at Eunice Shriver's life

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of President John F Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics, has died aged 88.

She died at Cape Cod hospital in Massachusetts on Tuesday morning, her family said in a statement.

Mrs Shriver organised the first Special Olympic Games in 1968, partly inspired by her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary Kennedy.

She is credited with helping to transform views of the mentally disabled through her campaigns.

President Barack Obama said he was saddened at the death of Mrs Shriver, calling her a "champion" for disabled people.

Mrs Shriver had been in critical condition at Cape Cod hospital since last week.

Her diagnosis was not given, but she had suffered a series of strokes in recent years.

Mrs Shriver is the mother of TV host Maria Shriver, who is married to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mrs Shriver's brother, Sen Edward Kennedy, is battling brain cancer that was diagnosed last year.

'Moral force'

Mrs Shriver was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

After earning a degree in sociology from Stanford University in 1943, she became a social worker at a women's prison before taking a job at the Chicago juvenile court.

She was the light of our lives
Shriver family statement

In 1957 she took over the Joseph P Kennedy Jr Foundation for the mentally disabled.

The Special Olympics grew from a summer camp at Mrs Shriver's home in Maryland in 1962.

They were designed to give opportunities to people with mental disabilities to be considered athletes in their own right.

The first Games were held in 1968 in Chicago. Lasting two days, they attracted more than 1,000 participants from 26 US states and Canada.

Recent summer Games have drawn thousands of athletes from more than 160 countries.

Peter Collier, who wrote The Kennedys, an American Drama, described Eunice Shriver as the "moral force" of the Kennedy family.

Her family said: "She was the light of our lives... who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to others.

"We have always been honoured to share our mother with people of goodwill the world over who believe, as she did, that there is no limit to the human spirit."

Mrs Shriver is survived by her husband Sargent Shriver - who served as JFK's first director of the Peace Corps and was George McGovern's vice-presidential running mate in 1972 - and her five children.

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Houston Chronicle Eunice K. Shriver: Left mark with work for mentally disabled - 4 hrs ago
Miami Herald `She changed society from the bottom up' - 5 hrs ago
ABC News Public Wake to Honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver - 9 hrs ago
People's Daily Online Former US president Kennedy's sister dies at 88 - 10 hrs ago The End Of The Kennedy Era - 17 hrs ago

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