She's the one we all wanted to be like, said her brother Bobby Kennedy. In another age, she's the one who could have been elected President, said Jack, the brother who was. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died Aug. 11 at 88, was never elected to anything. Yet she presided over a social revolution that changed not just attitudes but also laws, expectations and opportunities.
The middle child of nine, Shriver grew up in the shadow of Rosemary, the "mildly retarded" sister who loved to play but couldn't keep up. When Rosemary was 23, she had a prefrontal lobotomy; from that point on, she spent most of her life in an institution. Shriver deplored the practice of keeping people with mental disabilities sedentary lest they injure themselves; of keeping their very existence a secret, as her family had hidden Rosemary.
In 1962, Shriver used money from their parents' foundation to fund her vision for empowering the mentally disabled. What began as a summer camp in her Maryland backyard evolved into the Special Olympics, a competition that now attracts 1 million athletes from 160 countries. "She set out to change the world and to change us," her family said in a statement when she died, "and she did that and more."