BETHESDA, Maryland, January 19, 2011 ( – A legendary civil servant, one of the last of the old school of pro-life Democrats in America has passed away at the age of 95.

R. Sargent Shriver rose to prominence in the 1960s as the first director of the Peace Corps before running for vice president with Democrat presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. His wife, Eunice Shriver, was one of John F. Kennedy’s sisters; his daughter Maria Shriver is currently the first lady of California.

But unlike the vast majority of the rest of his party, Shriver, a strong Roman Catholic who attended daily Mass, never abandoned his original dedication to the unborn, opposing legalized abortion for the rest of his life.

In 1992, he joined a statement published in the New York Times that read in part: “To establish justice and to promote the general welfare, America does not need the abortion license. What America needs are policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”

Shriver, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, passed away in Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland on Tuesday.

Attorney Ronald Goldfarb a former member of the Kennedy administration and colleague of Shriver’s, praised his legacy of gentility and goodwill in a column for The Hill. “Sargent Shriver reminds us of a better time when government service was an honorable experience, a privilege recognized then and remembered now by those of us who served,” he wrote.

Joshua Mercer at the blog lamented the loss of defenders of the unborn in the highest Democrat circles, a disaster that has snowballed ever since an infamous meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass. in 1964. At the time, priests who rejected the Church’s moral teachings coached the influential Catholic family on how to justify public support of abortion.

While Mercer said he disagreed with Shriver’s passion for government involvement in social welfare programs – Shriver was an architect of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” – nonetheless, he said, “we were in agreement in protecting the dignity of the human person against the scourge of abortion.”

“I wish liberal Catholics were more like Sargent Shriver and less like his brother-in-law Ted Kennedy,” wrote Mercer, referring to the US Senator’s staunch pro-abortion advocacy.