Sargent Shriver passed away yesterday at 95 and the media has been right to lionize a life of remarkable public service, especially his visionary work founding the Peace Corps and Head Start programs.
And, of course, there remains great interest in the Kennedy legacy almost two generations after “Camelot” in Washington (Sarge was married to Eunice Kennedy, JFK’s—and RFK’s--sister, and founder of the Special Olympics), which continued with the glamorous life of daughter Maria Shriver.
For a number of years Sarge was a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman, my Washington DC law firm before I joined the law faculty at Wake Forest. “Sarge” is what everyone called him, from his senior partners to the guys in the mail room, and his distinctive bark was warmly imitated by my fellow associates. Sarge was a “rainmaker,” using his extensive international connections (including a stint as Ambassador to France) to develop a roster of blue chip clients with a need for legal advice on international business matters. I was a lowly associate in the litigation department, and never worked directly for Sarge, but despite his global practice, he was around a lot and always very approachable.
Here are just a few reminiscences about Sarge from my time at Fried Frank…. One day, Sarge was spotted poring over a law book. This was such an unusual event—a senior partner actually in the law library, doing research-- that the word went out and many associates hustled down to see such a rare event with their own eyes. Another: Ronnie in the mail room showed me some business cards they were printing for Sarge’s upcoming trip to the Soviet Union; they were almost twice the size of a typical card and had all the contact information on one side in English and the other in Cryllic. Last (but not least) I fondly remember a firm outing at Sarge and Eunice’s sprawling home in the Maryland countryside, where we played softball (and partied) until the sun went down.
What a great life. What a great man. RIP Sarge.