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Joseph

Joseph A. Sweeney

d. September 5, 2020

Joseph A. Sweeney, 83, passed away peacefully on September 5, 2020 at Keystone House in Wyndmoor, PA. Mr. Sweeney was born in Philadelphia to Dr. John A. Sweeney and Olive Mann Sweeney on January 9, 1937. He is survived by his three children Joseph Y. Sweeney, Hilary Y. Hayes and G. Spencer Sweeney. As well as his spouse Marian Y. Sweeney, brother Dr. William Sweeney, and grandchildren Olivia O. Hayes and Benjamin S. Hayes. Joseph was a Noncommissioned Officer in the US Navy and returned to Philadelphia to attend LaSalle University on the GI bill, graduating in 1963. He went on to study as a graduate student at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania. He worked for the City of Philadelphia in the Fairmount Park Commissioner’s Office and spent the majority of his career in the Office of Communications for the City. Joseph Sweeney was a dedicated public servant, volunteered at his parish St. Francis Xavier Church, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and a beloved member of the Philadelphia rowing community. Joseph Sweeney was a passionate oarsman for over 50 years and an active member of the Penn Athletic Club. Mr. Sweeney served as the Schuylkill Navy Commodore from 1985-1986. He dedicated his free time to coaching high school crew teams and highly talented rowing athletes. He coached Bonner Prendie Crew and La Salle College High School which named the Varsity 8 shell JOE SWEENEY. Mr. Sweeney received numerous awards including the Dr. George Morton Illman Award from Malta Boat Club in 1986, The Jack Seitz Memorial Award from the Dad Vail Regatta in 2004, and a Fairmount, Brewerytown, Art Museum ALL TIMERS inductee from Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia. When Mr. Sweeney was not coaching, he served as a USRA Judge/Referee working in an official capacity at rowing regattas held throughout the US. Rowing took Mr. Sweeney around the globe from The Henley Royal Regatta in the UK, to Hong Kong as one of the first western crews to participate and medal in the Crown Colony’s Dragonboat races. Rowing was his passion and a lifelong pursuit, which provided him with deep and expansive community ties, an outlet to share his knowledge through coaching, and a place to remain competitive and fit throughout his life. Joe continued to row consistently through his early eighties and was a member of the Masters Golden 8, a group boat consisting of rowers with rowing careers of 50 years or more. Mr. Sweeney will be deeply missed by his family and the Philadelphia Rowing Community. His legacy will live on through all those who have found the same passion for the sport. In Mr. Sweeney’s own words from Sabina Pierce’s 2014 Faces of Rowing, “In the illusive pursuit of life’s success, truth’s honor is often suppressed; and, the bitter struggle and quest for fame, tranquility, and peace are left request. Yet with self-control, diligence, and faith, one’s spirit can find respite. For me, sculling on the placid water along riparian banks, helps me transcend time and space. So, to be resolute in your strength and charitable to all, and truth and love will define your life. It brings peace of mind and soul.” Information on memorial service to honor and celebrate Joseph Sweeney’s life and achievements will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in his name to Penn AC Rowing Association, https://www.pennac.org/fundraising/ or St Francis Xavier Sanctuary Fund, 2319 Green Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130.
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