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Sargent Shriver recalled for helping others

POTOMAC, Md. - R. Sargent Shriver was honored yesterday as much for his passion for helping others as for his loving hugs.

Shriver, who fulfilled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy's campaign promise by starting the Peace Corps, developed the aid organization into an international force. Philanthropists and politicians who have worked to help others through charities were among hundreds honoring Shriver at a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, the Shriver family's church.

Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, U2 frontman Bono and singer Wyclef Jean were among those in attendance.

One by one, some of Shriver's 19 grandchildren read short remembrances about their grandfather, who died Tuesday at age 95. They recalled his passion for helping people, his hugs and his love of baseball.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington told the grandchildren to live with the same courage and fortitude of Shriver and his late wife, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Shriver's son Anthony recalled one of his last conversations with his father. He said his father told him: "You tell Cardinal Wuerl to make Eunice a saint!" The crowd erupted in laughter.

Shriver's other children also spoke of their father's legacy. Tim Shriver - now chief executive of the Special Olympics - said his father never coddled the children but "coached us to pursue those big, big ideas."

Maria Shriver, the former NBC reporter and wife of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said her family took comfort in "knowing that Daddy is in heaven with God and with Mummy."

Shriver had a whimsical side. He was an old-fashioned Irish storyteller who "never let the facts get in the way of a good story," Mark Shriver said.

Sargent Shriver also was former Sen. George McGovern's running mate in the 1972 presidential election, but the Democrats lost in a landslide to President Richard M. Nixon.

In 1994, Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. His son Anthony recalled that day, addressing Clinton.

"I'll never forget him there in the White House and you looking at him and giving him one of those big Bill Clinton hugs, and my dad . . . giving that Sarge Shriver hug and you wrapping that medal around his neck," he said. "Wow was he high that day."

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