As published in The Hour: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thehour/obituary.aspx?n=Paul-Joseph-Sweeney&pid=183026409
Paul Joseph Sweeney, 63, died on the evening of December 4, 2016, after a courageous three-year fight against cancer.
Born on March 15, 1953, in Providence, RI, he was the eldest of five children of the late Helen and James F. Sweeney, Jr.
Paul grew up in East Norwalk and graduated from Norwalk High School in 1971. He was a lifelong scholar, earning many degrees: BA in English Literature and Religion from Syracuse University; Master of Philosophy in both Buddhist Studies and in Theology from Columbia University, New York; and Masters in Information Science from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. Many considered Paul a genius, with his deep understanding of hundreds of subjects, including world religions, Sanskrit and global issues. Yet, as his niece aptly described, “Paul never one-upped someone in a conversation. He wanted to learn and share knowledge.”
If you sat next to Paul at the dinner table, you were in for a wonderful dialogue. He was happiest when talking and connecting with people and learning what you had to say.
Paul was an accomplished Librarian for the Washington, DC Public Library System, which allowed him to unleash and perpetuate his love for community, ideas and research. He initiated lecture series and book clubs. He was an expert speaker on nonviolent movements around the world. This article describes Paul’s huge impact on the Library community and his beloved D.C. – www.dclibrary.org/node/12907. Paul was so passionate about books that his landlord put up a shed in the backyard to store his enormous collection.
In 2013, when diagnosed with cancer, he began a fearless campaign to get past it. Immediately, he researched and found the best treatment available at Johns Hopkins. While he endured the pitfalls of side effects, he never complained. When asked how he was doing, his answer was always “great.” In remission, he enjoyed a vibrant 2015, at work and at home.
Unfortunately, the cancer returned in May 2016, but undaunted, six weeks before his death, he talked about returning to the Library part time, to get back on his feet. When his brother cautioned him, he quipped, “What do you want me to do? Give up?”
Paul is survived by his three brothers and their wives: Jim and Loretta Sweeney of North Myrtle Beach, SC; Bill and Rebecca Sweeney of Norwalk and Ted and Kathi Sweeney of Auburn, PA, and his sister and her husband, Maureen and Jay Gulick of Huntington, CT. In addition, he is survived by his nieces and nephews and their families, all of whom were enriched by their conversations with Paul: Rachel and Jared Rouleau; Bridget Sweeney; Laura and Ian Leatherman; Brian and Kevin Sweeney; Michael and Deanna Gulick and Jenny Gulick. Also, he is survived by his dearest friends and co-workers in the D.C. area.
Special thanks to Paul’s brother Bill, who tirelessly devoted his time and love to Paul, as they navigated his valiant journey together with determination and grace.
Celebrations of Paul’s life will take place in Maryland and Norwalk in the new year. Contributions in his memory can be made to: Lonergan Institute, c/o Br. Dunstan Robidoux, St. Anselm’s Abbey, 4501 S. Dakota Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20017-2753.