By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Frances Williams saw presidential candidate George McGovern’s running mate – Sargent Shriver – speak in Tupelo while teaching history her first year of school in 1972.
She wanted to hear a national political candidate speak. That experience brought her to the Lee County Library on Tuesday, to hear Shriver’s son, Mark, 49, speak. Sitting in the audience listing to the senior vice president of the charity Save the Children, Williams saw traces of the man she saw speak four decades ago.
“I remember he was a very personable,” Williams of the father after hearing the son talk. “I see the same thing in him.”
Mark Shriver appeared at the library as the speaker of the annual Helen Foster Lecture Series, which has hosted writers through the years including Willie Morris, Alice Walker and Shelby Foote. Mark Shriver’s 2012 memoir, “A Good Man – Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver,” shares personal stories about the father’s faith and concern for everyday people.
Sargent Shriver helped found the Peace Corps, Head Start and other programs associated with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty.” Sargent Shriver’s wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was the sister of President John F. Kennedy.
Mark Shriver said he decided to write the book after he heard waitresses, a garbage man and many working-class people describe his father after his death as “a good man.”
Helping give kids in poverty the same opportunities as other children, Mark Shriver’s work helps continue his father’s commitment to help others. While his father died in 2011 at age 95, Mark said he still feels his dad around him.
“I really feel like you can have a relationship with someone even if they’re not physically here,” he said of his father. “They’re energy, spirit and lessons are still here.”