Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy passed away early this morning.
The 77 year old senator died of brain cancer. Senator Kennedy was the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. His sister Jean Kennedy Smith is now the only surviving member of the Kennedy clan. Their sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver passed away earlier this month.
By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most powerful and influential senators in American history and one of three brothers whose political triumphs and personal tragedies captivated the nation for decades, died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77. He had been battling brain cancer.
His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”
President Obama was notified about 2 a.m., aides said, and spoke to Kennedy’s widow, Victoria, a short time later. In a statement released Wednesday morning, Obama paid tribute to Kennedy, pointing out that “virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. . . .
“Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time,” the statement said. “. . . . Our hearts and prayers go out to” the Kennedy family.
Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, was the last male survivor of a privileged and charismatic family that in the 1960s dominated American politics and attracted worldwide attention. His sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, died two weeks ago, also in Hyannis Port. One sibling, former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith, is still alive.
As heir through tragedy to his accomplished older brothers — President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), both of whom were assassinated — Edward Kennedy became the patriarch of his clan and a towering figure in the U.S. Senate to a degree neither of his siblings had been.
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Senator Kennedy is survived by his wife Victoria Anne Reggie, three children from his first marriage, Kara Anne Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), two stepchildren and four grandchildren.