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.
Clinton looks back at Shriver career
"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."
Others were inspired to their own social activism.
Bono pays tribute
"I was a student really of the Sarge way of doing things," U2 frontman Bono told The Associated Press after singing at the service. Bono founded the Red Campaign with Shriver's eldest son Bobby to fight AIDS in Africa.
"It's a rare combination of grace and strategy," Bono said of Sargent Shriver.
Archbishop claps along with Wyclef Jean
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." Bono and Glen Hansard, who starred in the movie "Once," sang "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace."
One by one, many of Shriver's 19 grandchildren read short remembrances about their grandfather, recalling his passion for helping people, his hugs and his love of baseball.