In Washington, D.C. today, June 2, at the Dacor House there is a special luncheon being held in celebration and remembrance of Mary Ann Orlando, the legendary personal assistant of Sargent Shriver who died on April 19, 2017, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
When Sargent Shriver moved from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, D.C. and became the Director of the Peace Corps he brought only one person with him, and that was Mary Ann Orlando. Mary Ann was born and raised in Chicago and went to work in 1946 at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. In 1948 Shriver took charge of the Mart, owned by his father-in-law, and Mary Ann became his secretary. At the start of the Peace Corps in 1961, she had already worked for Sarge for 13 years. Her title was Confidential Assistant to the Director. Mary Ann would go with Shriver to OEO, and later with him to his private practice, and to Paris when he was appointed Ambassador. She never returned to Chicago but lived out her life in Washington, working for Sarge, as well as back in the White House. In the 1980s, she moved to the National Arboretum where she eventually was executive director of the world renowned Bonsai Center Foundation. She worked on many Kennedy Family not-for-profits and events and was known and appreciated by all the family. Her most recent philanthropist efforts were on behalf of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.
The following is a tribute to Mary Ann by Dr. Joseph English, the Peace Corps first–and most famous–Chief of Psychiatry. I am pleased to be able to post it as we all remember Mary Ann.
Tribute To Mary Ann
Dear Friends of Mary Ann.
Many things came together to create the wonder of the Peace Corps.
The President who created it, the man he chose to lead it, the people who came to form an organization like no other, the young people who responded to its call and a young woman who was the spark and sustenance behind everything – Mary Ann Orlando.
I wish a family commitment did not keep Ann and me from being with you to share memories, some sad, some real fun.
Like the extraordinary work she did in helping with President Kennedy’s Funeral; (all behind the scenes);
Like the support she gave to staff and volunteers who sat outside Sarge’s office waiting to talk to him about problems;
Like the parties she organized to celebrate our great moments;
Like her genius in packing the suitcases Sarge always had on a plane full of good books and paperwork he would send back to her at every stop;
Like her unflappable calm when the chaos outside of Sarge’s office had even a psychiatrist worried;
And on a more personal note, when she was helping our Ambassador to Paris (Sarge) and when he invited us to spend the last week of our honeymoon in Paris, how could we refuse? One of the best parts of our experience was when Mary Ann took us “out on the town”. You may not have known what a “fun loving girl” she was and we would love to be with you this afternoon to share the details!
Ann and I would like to join you in a toast to our Peace Corps star who is now a star in the heavens preparing a special place there for all who fell in love with the Peace Corps and hope to join her there!
Ann and Joe English
7 Valley Road
917 678 3317