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The man who started the Peace Corps

Sargent Shriver

He founded the Peace Corps and ran the War on Poverty.

Not bad. And even though we still have war and poverty, it’s pretty clear he made a difference.

I bet most people have heard the name “Sargent Shriver,” but I would also bet most of them can’t remember why. Didn’t he have something to do with politics? Yeah, but it was a kind of politics that seems increasingly rare today; the public service kind.

R. Sargent Shriver died yesterday, at age 95 and of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was part of the Kennedy clan (by marriage to JFK’s sister Eunice) and an unrepentant believer in the idea that we can make the world a better place.

The Washington Post eulogized him as a “Warrior for Peace and Prosperity” while the UK’s Guardian credited Shriver for adhering to the “old belief” that to those who have been given much from life, much is expected of them to give back.

Shriver did have a political career as well, summarized nicely in this report by NPR. But it was really public service, a focus on helping the most disenfranchised, that is his legacy.

This remembrance of “Sarge” in HuffPo by John Bridgeland gives you a good sense of the man. And if you want to know about his skill at napping when flying around the world or traveling on diplomatic duty, read the New Yorker’s take.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.