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Gov. Schwarzenegger on Uncle Teddy: 'rock of our family'

August 26, 2009 |  6:15 am

Ted Kennedy speaks at the Eunice Shriver Center

Ted Kennedy, who died of brain cancer last night at 77, took up the political mantle when the bullets of assassins felled his brothers, President Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

 But he also became an unlikely patriarch for all the children of the famous Kennedy clan. And their spouses.

And so Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband of Kennedy niece and California First Lady Maria Shriver,  issued a statement saying that that he and Maria were "immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy."

 "He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon," said Schwarzenegger, a well-known Republican in a famously Democratic family. "Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character."

After flirting with presidential ambition and battling his own private demons and the aftermath of the  Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy turned himself into a powerhouse of Senate effectiveness. Partnering with key Republicans, he helped enact the Americans With Disabilities Act, increased the minimum wage, and enacted COBRA health insurance for the unemployed and Title IX parity for women in school sports. (An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the provision of federal law dealing with parity for women in sports as Title IV.)

 “I have personally benefited and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well," the governor said. “Teddy taught us all that public service isn't a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on."

 -- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Kennedy at the dedication of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in Waltham, Mass., in October 1970. Credit: Associated Press

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