Patricia R. Sweeney

Southwest Harbor

Patricia Riley Sweeney, a resident of Southwest Harbor since 1985, died peacefully at Birch Bay Retirement Village on Jan. 17, 2022, one week shy of her 94th birthday. Pat was the only child of John Alan Riley and Mary Elmer Brittin, both Connecticut natives. Pat was born on Jan. 25, 1928, in St. Louis, Mo., but spent her early years in Spanish Morocco. Her father, a mining engineer, organized the opening and operation of the Minas del Rif iron ore mine owned by the Spanish royal family. Pat was home-schooled, and vacations were spent visiting countries in Europe. Books became her lifelong friends.

Seven years later (in advance of the Spanish Civil War), the family left Morocco and settled in Westport, Conn. Pat attended high school in Westport, where she met future husband Tom Sweeney, and graduated from Middlebury College with a major in languages.

Tom and Pat married in 1950 and settled in New Jersey, but not for long as Tom, a licensed civil engineer, was asked to go to Brazil and France to manage major international construction projects. Due to her childhood experiences overseas and extensive study of languages, Pat was of great assistance to Tom in navigating foreign countries — all while raising three young children. She always volunteered at the American School libraries and shared her love of reading with her children.

In 1972, Pat and Tom returned to the States to settle in Cleveland, Ohio. Pat earned her master’s degree in library science from Case Western Reserve and worked for a database company abstracting information on new products.

Having vacationed in Farmington for many years, Pat and Tom decided to retire to Maine. While looking for a place to settle, they came up to Southwest Harbor for their son’s wedding in 1983. Pat and Tom fell in love with the town and built their retirement home. Tom spent many months rebuilding the harbormaster’s house, and in 1989 Pat and Tom settled into both the house and the community forming a strong attachment to the Congregational Church and the Public Library.

After Tom’s death in 1993, Pat remained in Southwest Harbor, helping at the library, making friends among a group of widows, continuing to quilt and knitting mittens and socks for the Maine Seacoast Mission while listening to endless hours of audio books.

Pat is survived by three children, Robin Peabody, Dale Starr Sweeney and Patrick Skye Sweeney, as well as four grandchildren.

A memorial service at Mt. Height Cemetery, Southwest Harbor will be held later this year. To honor Pat’s love of books, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Southwest Harbor Public Library, P.O. Box 157, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679 or other charity of choice.

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