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For DCF chief, Sen. Kennedy was friend, former boss

DCF Secretary George Sheldon interned for Sen. Kennedy during his freshman year at American University in 1965.

“It was a big deal. You know, I grew up a Republican. Then I saw John Kennedy's inaugural address and I had this conversion. I legitimately worried that he was going to solve all the world's problems before I grew up, and there would be nothing left to do. Sen. Kennedy carried that on."

"If you look at the period of the last half century, Sen. Kennedy was involved in nearly every initiative that occurred," Sheldon said Wednesday. "Even though politically he was somewhat polarizing, if you talk to members of the other party, there was a huge level of respect for his intellect. He is one of those rare individuals that can have an impact on an entire century.”

In 1980, Sheldon chaired Sen. Kennedy's failed presidential campaign in Florida. They remained friends over the years, and Sheldon became good friends with Bobby Kennedy Jr.

“I had an amazing, warm affection for Sen. Kennedy and for the family. I‘ve never known a family that was that close," Sheldon said. "And I found that if they kind of accepted you into the realm, there was an undying loyalty.”

When Sheldon lost his run for Congress in 1982, his phone rang the next morning. It was Sen. Kennedy, calling to say he watched the numbers all night and wished they had gone the other way.