Sargent Shriver, “The Maverick Inlaw,” Dead at 95

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Democratic candidate for Vice President, R. Sargent Shriver gestures to a crowd at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1972 / Corbis

Democratic candidate for Vice President, R. Sargent Shriver gestures to a crowd at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1972 / Corbis

The American politician, activist and Kennedy brother-in-law Sargent Shriver died on January 18th in his homestate of Maryland; he was 95.

Married to J.F.K.’s sister Eunice, Shriver was perhaps best known for his ties to the Kennedy family, a relationship that both afflicted and promoted his political career. In the shadow of his brothers-in-law he found it nearly impossible to run for public office. When finally he was chosen in 1972 as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, it was only because its first pick had resigned from the ticket.

But Shriver—“the maverick inlaw,” as a TIME profile from’72 has it—was a fiercely independent man with his own great ambitions. The Yale-trained lawyer was the driving force behind, and first director of, the Peace Corps and made an adamant attempt to keep America out of World War II. He also founded a myriad of social institutions and organizations, though some were overly idealistic. As TIME’s David Von Drehle writes in his obituary, “Hardly a starry-eyed program was launched in the 1960s without Shriver’s imprint,” among them Head Start, Vista, Job Corps, Community Action and Special Olympics.

He may have been dwarfed at times by his Kennedy connection, but not for nothing did President Obama call Shriver, in a statement after his death, “one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation.”

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