Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of President Kennedy and mother of California First Lady Maria Shriver, died at 2 a.m. EST Tuesday at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass., her family said in a statement. She was 88.
Over the weekend, family members, including son-in-law and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, flew to Barnstable, Mass., to be with Shriver, who had suffered a series of strokes in recent years, according to family members, Bizjournals.com reports.
In a speech last year at the Women's Conference in Long Beach, Maria Shriver said her mother had had several strokes.
Two days before she was hospitalized in November 2007, Eunice Shriver was honored for her work with the disabled at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston at an event organized by her children. That fall, she also had traveled to Shanghai to attend her final Special Olympics, the sports competition for the mentally disabled that she founded in 1968.
"Eunice was the light of our family," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said of his mother-in-law in a statement. "She meant so much, not only to us, but to our country and to the world. She was a pioneer who worked tirelessly for social and scientific advances that have changed the lives of millions of developmentally disabled people all over the world."
President Obama called Shriver "a champion for people with intellectual disabilities and an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation -- and our world -- that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit," The Los Angeles Times reports.
Shriver's husband, five children and 19 grandchildren were by her side when she passed away Tuesday, Voice of America reports.
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