August 11, 2009

"She understood deeply the lesson our mother and father taught us -- much is expected of those to whom much has been given."

"Throughout her extraordinary life, she touched the lives of millions, and for Eunice that was never enough."

So said Teddy Kennedy about his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, dead at the age of 88.
In the competitive household of her youth, she established herself as the most intellectually gifted of the sisters in a family where the patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., decided that his sons were the ones bound for politics.

Within the constraints of her era, gender, and social strata, she was the most ambitious, too, becoming an international leader more than a half century ago in the burgeoning movement to wrest mental retardation from the shadows of hushed conversations.

A younger sister of Rosemary Kennedy, who was developmentally disabled and institutionalized most of her life, Mrs. Shriver dedicated decades to ensuring that other families would not endure the fate of her own, watching a loved one whisked behind closed doors. In an attempt to alleviate Rosemary’s intellectual disabilities, doctors performed a lobotomy that instead left her in need of constant care.
Here are 2 pictures of the great lady — young and old:

23 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

The Special Olympics was a good thing. Thanks.

traditionalguy said...

If my father was Joseph Kennedy, then I would have certainly tried to establish myself as intellectually gifted before Daddy came after me next. RIP courageous Eunice.

Rialby said...

The Special Olympics is indeed a truly wonderful gift to the mentally disabled. What's terrible though is, as I listened to the story on NPR this morning and as they spoke of the inspiration that Rosemary was to Eunice, all I could think was, "was this before or after her father lobotomized her?".

ricpic said...

Neverending Kennedy worship.

Roger J. said...

Clearly the superstar of the Kennedy clan--RIP

NKVD said...

Whoa - we now have word verificaion - take that, Christena!

Darcy said...

Remarkable woman. I have really liked most of the Kennedys.

bearbee said...

I liked Eunice.

Rest In Peace

MPorcius said...

That one on the right, I'm pretty sure massacred my entire party when we played "Keep on the Borderlands." Or maybe it was "Tomb of Horrors."

Good times, good times.

Verification word: shemes

Beth said...

So I take it the Kennedy's won't be serving on Obama's Death Panel when we become Communists?

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chase said...

Kennedy worship?

Maybe for some. I personally am not enamored of the legends.

But what's so wrong with Eunice? And the Special Olympics - is that not an admirable thing?

jaed said...

Developmentally disabled, my ass. Her IQ may have been lower than the average in that generation of Kennedys, but that does not constitute "intellectual disabilities" and her diaries make clear that she was not retarded. After the lobotomy, yes - she lost her ability to speak due to the damage to her brain - but before that, she seems to have been a normal young woman as far as her intelligence is concerned.

dick said...

Far and away the best of them all. Far better than Teddy ever will be.

NKVD said...

Eunice never rode with Teddy.

The lobotomized sister had seizures, as I recall. Don't really care.

Beth, there will always be a spot on the death panel for you.

WV - commiesuk

Ralph L said...

Is Teddy the last of his generation of Kennedy's?

I believe I read Eunice was the only one of the siblings to visit Rosemary in Wisconsin.

NKVD said...

Popped over to Wikipedia, the font of all that is good and true, and read that Teddy has a sister 4 years his senior, named Jean Ann.

WV - irishstaggering

AJ Lynch said...

I think Ethel is still alive.

As a campaign volunteer, I drove Eunice and one her sisters around Philly about 30 years ago - maybe it was 1980 when Teddy ran for prez.

I was shocked even then at how weathered the two of them were. Irish skin and beach loving.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah I heard the NPR story this morning. They ignored the lobotomy and Rosemary's commitment to an institution.

Edmund said...

I have a brother in law with Down Syndrome. The Special Olympics has been one of great passions in his life. (The others are drumming and Madonna.)

If you haven't seen it The Ringer is a gem of a film about the Special Olympics.

knox said...

ugh. Kennedys. Apologies to those who are enamored, but that clan is just some sort of bizarre, spoiled aristocracy. We don't do aristocracy in this country, guys; go away now, and please stay out of our politics.

To be fair, this woman seems like she has a more developed conscience than the others, so good for her.

William said...

There's a downside to all the expanded career opportunities for women. If Eunice had been able to channel her energy and drive into a career, we would have had another Kennedy in Congress (ugh). As it were, she used her gifts to organize the Special Olympics....I remember a time when fields like social work and occupational therapy and primary school teaching had some extremely gifted practitioners. I don't mean this as a knock on the current practitioners, but really some enormously bright women used to go into the helping professions. The upside of the caste system is that you get an equable distribution of brains among the different jobs.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

William - not to mention the upside that women get to do whatever the hell they want to do, just like the men do. Well, it's an upside for us.