In Memory

William F Sweeney

William F Sweeney
Tech 5
304th Station Hospital


20 Jan 1916 Brookline, Massachusetts
5 Dec 2003 Norwood, Massachusetts



Boston Globe, The (MA) - December 11, 2003


William F. Sweeney grew up in Brookline Village, where he knew almost everyone's name and everyone knew his. He was so popular that in the pre-World War II days, he was known as the "mayor of Brookline."

After marrying a Jamaica Plain woman, the school custodian settled there for 45 years, selling Christmas trees on a South Street corner and raising thousands of dollars for the Jimmy Fund by sponsoring baseball games.

Mr. Sweeney, 87, died Friday at Norwood Hospital of complications from emphysema and pneumonia. He had been living with his daughter, Geraldine Bello, in Hyde Park since the death of his wife, Martha (Kilrow), in 1987.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Sweeney was a custodian for the Boston schools, working mainly in Brighton and Jamaica Plain.

Though he retired 25 years ago, Mr. Sweeney kept active, especially when it came to his beloved Red Sox. As an avid member of the BoSox club, a team fan club, Mr. Sweeney rarely missed a home game, and for 20 years went to spring training in Florida.

For as many years, he was an active fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund, which raises money for cancer research and is the official charity of the Red Sox.

Mr. Sweeney raised money by getting baseball teams of gas company employees to face off against electric company employees; police against firefighters; old-timers against younger players.

It all added up to over $1,000 a game for the Jimmy Fund, Mike Andrews, former Red Sox player and Jimmy Fund chairman, said.

"Bill was a wonderful man," Andrews said. "He exemplified what a true Jimmy Fund volunteer is and what volunteerism is about."

Through his dedication, Mr. Sweeney got to know many Sox players and often would surprise guests at softball tournaments and barbecues "with appearances by his friends from the Boston Red Sox," said his daughter.

Mr. Sweeney was born in Brookline, one of 12 children. He was such an extrovert, his daughter said, that he ran many of the neighborhood minstrel shows.

When he got home from serving with the Army in Europe, the unofficial mayor of Brookline married Miss Jamaica Plain, the winner of a neighborhood beauty contest.

The couple settled in her native Jamaica Plain, where they stayed for 45 years. Mr. Sweeney became a familiar figure there, selling Christmas trees at a South Street corner and paying neighborhood children to deliver them to the buyers' homes.

Several years ago, Mr. Sweeney gave up his driver's license because of failing vision, but it didn't stop him from getting around, his daughter said. Mr. Sweeney was so well known that people always stopped to give him rides. Friendly bus drivers would invite him to joy ride to the end of the line and back again.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Sweeney leaves another daughter, Maureen Meehan of Roslindale; a brother, Jack of Brookline; two sisters, Carrie Wasson of Saugus and Dottie Leblanc of Wilbraham; three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Services have been held.

Boston Globe, The (MA)

Date: December 11, 2003

Edition: THIRD

Page: B14

Record Number: 0312110268