Sargent Shriver Hospitalized | NBC4 Washington

Sargent Shriver Hospitalized

Maryland native, political icon critically ill

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    REUTERS
    MSG: Senator Edward Kennedy's brother in law Sargent Shriver is escorted to his seat in the church by his son Anthony Kennedy Shriver as U.S. President Barack Obama looks on at funeral services for Senator Edward Kennedy at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Massachusetts August 29, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)

    Former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee R. Sargent Shriver, 95,  was in criticalcondition Monday at a hospital in Maryland, according to a spokeswomanfor the family.

    Shriver was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on Sunday, the family said in an e-mail statement attributed tospokeswoman Kirsten Seckler. No other details about his ailment were released. Shriverannounced in 2003 that he had Alzheimer's disease.

    He served as the first Peace Corps director in theadministration of his brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy. Healso was Democrat George McGovern's running mate in 1972.Shriver's wife, Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died in 2009 at age 88. He is also the father of former NBC reporter Maria Shriver, whois married to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Shriver is often known first as a Kennedy in-law, but hisachievements are historic in their own right.  Not only was he the Peace Corps' first director, he also led President Lyndon Johnson's ``War on Poverty,'' out of which came such programs as Head Start and Legal Services.Within the family, he was sometimes relied upon for the hardest tasks. When Jacqueline Kennedy needed someone to arrange the funeral for herassassinated husband, she asked Shriver.

    Shriver had fought for integration in Chicago and helpedpersuade Kennedy to make a crucial decision in the 1960 campaign despite other staffers' fears of a white backlash: When the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in Georgia that fall, Kennedyphoned King's wife and offered support. His gesture was deeplyappreciated by King's family and brought the candidate crucialsupport.

    Soon after taking office, President Kennedy named Shriver tofulfill a campaign promise to start the Peace Corps. Although it was belittled by some as a ``kiddie corps,'' Shriver quickly builtthe agency into an international institution.

    In 1994, Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, thenation's highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton.