Robert Dalzell Sweet Jr., 81, died peacefully at home among family and friends on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. He is survived by his wife of nearly 39 years, Margie (Mary V. Frear), and four children, Perci (wife of Jim Fungaroli), Amy (wife of Mike Petrus), Rob (Robert Dalzell Sweet III, husband to Stacie Waltz) and Stephen Edward Sweet (husband to Bailey Grandy), nine grandchildren, Conor and Cole Fungaroli, Matthew Petrus, Jessica, (wife of Jesse Hoffman), Bradley, Nicholas and Eric Sweet, and Margaret and Robert Sweet, one great-grandchild, Janae Petrus, and a sister, Ann Sweet Dupar (wife of Kenneth Dupar). He was preceded in death by one brother, Thomas Grebe Sweet.
Since retiring to Maine in 2008, Bob has been an active member of Church of Our Father Episcopal Church in Hulls Cove, and also the singing group, Gospel Gents.
Bob was born on May 27, 1937, in Midland, Mich. At the young age of 15, he was stricken with polio just months before the Salk vaccine became available. Refusing the usual treatment of placement in an iron lung and transferring him instead to Sister Kenny Hospital in Los Angeles, his father made it possible for Bob to regain his strength to walk again, finish his education at College (now University) of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., and go on to become a successful businessman. In 1973, after working several positions with Dow Chemical and then Westinghouse Corp., Bob started his own business, Creative Pultrusions, in Bedford, Pa., to fulfill an order with General Motors Corp for fiberglass dunnage bars. He used his own truck, materials he assembled and seven young high school employees, four of whom remain with the company today. From that small beginning in a garage, the company grew over the years until it employed 250 people and was a multimillion-dollar business at the time Bob retired.
Bob was always very involved in his community, sharing generously both with profits as well as his time as board member or leader of many organizations (hospital, school, airport authority, United Way, church, Rotary, community foundations). He even created his own Foundation to give away grants to local church groups and scholarships to young students to further their education. Because he felt a need to tell others the story of his fight and survival over Polio, Bob made himself available as speaker to many Rotary Clubs to raise money for their effort to eradicate the disease around the world.
He was honored with many fine recognitions, most notably as local Man of the Year for Elks, Citizen of the Year for Rotary, an Alumni Distinguished Professional Service Award from his alma mater, University of the Pacific, and then, within his own industry, he was inducted into the national Composites Institute Hall of Fame as well as named the global Pultruder of the Year at an international Pultrusion Industry conference.
Bob and his wife, Margie, loved to sail and in 1993, they launched their beautiful 43-foot Hinckley sailboat, Spirit Wind, which began a series of adventures at sea, both here in the waters along the coast of Maine and then, off shore to Bermuda, the Virgin Islands and the whole Caribbean Island chain. In 2008, when the company Bob created was sold to a British firm, it seemed only natural to bring Spirit Wind home to Maine, where she remains today under new ownership. It was here then that the struggle to overcome polio resumed and Bob slowly began to lose his mobility, but never his spirit. And now, that spirit and Bob are finally free to join many loved ones who’ve gone before him to be with Jesus. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Sail on, beloved, under the wings of your mighty Creator.
Funeral and celebration memorial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, at Church of Our Father Episcopal Church in Hulls Cove. A memorial service is planned for Bedford, Pa., in October. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Church of Our Father, P.O. Box 186, Hulls Cove, ME 04644 or Imago Dei Anglican Church, 56 Center St., Bangor.
Arrangements in care of Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St., Ellsworth. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.