While Sargent Shriver’s work, passions, and family were changing the world, he always made time to share a kind word, enjoy, appreciate, and nurture the wonder of children. Over the years that I’ve paused to reach out to thousands of youngsters, my early experiences with Sargent Shriver remain a lasting example of the difference we can make in a moment of kindness.
“Of all the candidates I’ve known, I’ve never known any who had better, more loving, more caring relationships with his family and the love of his children then Sarge Shriver.”
~ Mark Shields
The warm greetings from Sargent Shriver are some of my favorite childhood memories from visits to my father’s Washington, D.C. law firm. As a kid, I knew little, if anything, of his accomplishments, relationship to the Kennedy family, legal talents, or significant contributions to the world. But I knew that whenever I passed his office heading down the hall to see my dad, Sargent Shriver regularly peeked out to say hello, ask how I was doing, and wish me well.
Although my parents divorced when I was three and contact with my father afterward was infrequent at best, I am forever grateful for the lessons men such as Sargent Shriver taught me during those early years about life, kindness, and the ability each of us has to contribute to the lives of others. As I grew up and learned more about Sargent Shriver, I was struck by how real, human, and friendly he had always been to me during periods in his life that his work and family were touching the lives of people throughout the world.
While it’s been decades since I walked down that hallway at the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson law offices and had a chance to say hello to Sargent, the memory and meaning of those interactions have remained a lasting lesson about the difference we can make with a kind word, moment of humanity, and pausing to enjoy, appreciate and nurture the wonder of children.
With Sargent Shriver in mind, I suspect I’ve paused to say hello to thousands of youngsters over the years, each time remembering that as busy as Sargent was, he always made time.
UPDATE: 1/18/2011, 5:30PM
Statement from The Shriver Family
Our dad, Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., lovingly known as “Sarge,” today went to heaven to join the love of his life, our mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He was surrounded by his five children, five children in-law, and his 19 grandchildren.
He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family. He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others. No one ever came into his presence without feeling his passion and his enthusiasm for them. He loved God, he loved Eunice, he loved us, he loved anyone who was a servant of peace, justice or joy. He loved life.
We pray that his spirit and example will guide us as we accept the challenge of living as he did. We will miss him forever. May the angels and saints and all his family receive him with a party beyond all imagining.
-The family of Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.