POTOMAC, Md. — R. Sargent Shriver was always an optimist, pioneering the Peace Corps and running the War on Poverty during the turbulent 1960s — an idealist even as the running mate on a Democratic presidential ticket doomed for failure.
At his funeral Mass on Saturday, mourners from philanthropist and musician Bono to Vice President Joe Biden to former President Bill Clinton honored a man who dedicated his life to serving others. The celebration was filled with songs, laughter and fond memories.
"Fifty years ago, President Kennedy told us we should ask what we can do for our country," Clinton said. "A whole generation of us understood what President Kennedy meant by looking at Sargent Shriver's life."
Shriver, who died Tuesday at age 95, was affectionately known as "Sarge." He grew up during the Great Depression, went to Yale on a scholarship and served in the Navy during World War II. Then, he fulfilled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy's campaign promise by developing the Peace Corps into a lasting international force.
"When he was starting the Peace Corps from scratch, many people thought he was naive and too idealistic, wanting to send a bunch of young Americans abroad" to some of the poorest countries of the world, said his son, Mark Shriver. "Daddy saw people helping people."
First lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey attended. Wyclef Jean played the piano and sang All the Ends of the Earth as guests — and even Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington — clapped along. Later, Vanessa Williams softly performed Soon and Very Soon.