The oldest of the surviving siblings of US President John F. Kennedy, Rosemary, has died at the age of 86 in an institution in Wisconsin. She was born with mild mental retardation, even though she was well enough to be presented to the king and queen of England when her father, Joseph Kennedy, was US ambassador in the 1930s. She could even read and write. However, after the family returned from London, her behaviour became disruptive. When she was 23, doctors performed a lobotomy, a discredited surgical procedure in which the frontal lobes of the brain are scraped away, in order to settle her behaviour. Something went amiss in the operation and for the next 60 years Rosemary lived as a helpless invalid in an infant-like state.
Rosemary was out of the public eye for many years, but her condition became public when her brother was elected in 1960. Her sister Eunice became an activist for the mentally retarded and founded a special Olympics for them. Her surviving siblings said that Rosemary was a lifelong jewel to every member of our family. She was always a loving presence in our lives."
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