Sweeney & Sheehan mourns the loss of its founder, Donald J.P. Sweeney, Esquire. A viewing will take place on Saturday June 12th at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, 212 Welsh Road, Huntingdon Valley from 9 – 11 A.M. followed by a Funeral Mass at 11 A.M. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be made in his honor to St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, 1733 Girard Ave., Phila., Pa 19130 or St. Albert the Great Catholic Church at the above address. His obituary may be found at: Donald J. P. Sweeney Obituary
In announcing his passing to the firm, Managing Partner Warren Voter wrote:
It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that Sweeney & Sheehan’s founder, Donald J. P. Sweeney, has passed away.
Don put himself through Temple Law School at night and came of age as a lawyer during the heyday of the insurance defense bar. He became a giant among insurance defense lawyers but despite his accomplishments, never sought accolades. He let his work and results speak for him. He was absolutely fearless in the courtroom. His long time friend, court reporter Bob Ackerman, used to say that Don was one of the few lawyers he’d ever seen who could “turn a case around.” Clients sought him for their biggest cases and he never let them down.
Don grew up in the West Oak Lane section of the City, the only child of an Irish cop father and Irish mother. He was proud of his roots and never forgot them. He always had the greatest respect for people who “came up the hard way”. He believed hard work was the key to success and prized it in himself and his employees. He never failed to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of others and treated everyone associated with the Firm with respect.
Don and Dan McWilliams started the Firm fifty years ago. Legend has it their first office was the trunk of a car when their employer learned they were leaving his firm and locked them out of his office. Although he always had partners, it was Don who built the Firm and then managed it through good times and also times made difficult by significant medical problems. Don never gave in and never lost his resolve. He even took advantage of those difficulties when given the chance. A detached retina is no trivial thing yet Don found that wearing an eye patch and looking like a pirate was not such a bad thing for a trial lawyer. I swear he used that black eye patch several weeks longer than necessary just so he could wear it during a trial in Federal Court. The jury loved it.
Don was my first and only boss, my mentor and later, my friend. He taught me and countless others how to be a good lawyer and more importantly, how to be a good person – who would be respected and trusted by colleagues and adversaries alike and who could be relied upon by family and friends. He taught honesty, integrity and dignity, win or lose.
The night before my first trial, a trial Don went out on a limb with the client to allow me to handle, Don reassured me that, whatever the result, the sun would come up in the East and go down in the West. It was reassuring then and continues to be. Though Don’s sunrises and sunsets have come to an end, what he has meant to me and all who were fortunate enough to know him, never will.
Please keep Don, Ann and their children, Patrick, Shannon, Danny, Gerry and Suzanne, and their families, in your thoughts and prayers.