He was the first director of the Peace Corps, and led President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." From that effort came such programs as Head Start and Legal Services.
He also was Democrat George McGovern's running mate in 1972.
Shriver advised his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy, during the 1960 presidential campaign -- and helped persuade Kennedy to make a crucial decision, despite the fears of other staffers that there would be a white backlash. Martin Luther King was jailed in Georgia that fall, and Kennedy phoned King's wife to offer support.
Shriver was someone the Kennedy family would sometimes turn to for the hardest tasks. Jacqueline Kennedy relied on him to arrange the funeral for her murdered husband.
His wife Eunice was the founder of the Special Olympics. She died in 2009 at the age of 88.
They were the parents of Maria Shriver, the wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger.