Donald E. Sweeney, an educator who achieved breakthroughs in the integration of intellectually challenged children into the Kingston, New York, school system, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 88.
Sweeney was the father of Anne M. Sweeney, who stepped down earlier this year as Disney/ABC president to direct television.
A native of White Plains, New York, Sweeney enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, serving as a corporal in the Second Marine Division during WWII in the Central Pacific. He was a forward observer in Saipan, Tinian, the Marshalls, Guam, and Okinawa. He also served as an MP in Nagasaki, service that initiated a lifelong interest in the Japanese people and culture.
After his military service, Sweeney earned his Bachelor’s degree in education from SUNY Oswego in 1952 and his Masters of Science Degree in Education from Syracuse University in 1954. He received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education from SUNY New Paltz and completed post-graduate work at NYU and SUNY Albany.
Eventually he became a principal at various elementary schools and retired in 1987.
Sweeney leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Anne Jacqueline Tormay Sweeney. He is also survived by his children, Anne M. Sweeney and her husband Philip Miller of Los Angeles, Donald E. Sweeney Jr. of Kingston, New York, and Rosemary Sweeney Hanczor and her husband Robert of San Diego, California, as well as seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Monica Church, 725 California Street, Santa Monica, California, on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 11 a.m. Donations may be sent to the following charities: UCLA Medical Center, Autism Speaks, Stand Up to Cancer.