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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Philip Sweeney would agree that he truly loved life. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather who adored his family and lived to serve them however he could. Philip knew how to work hard and he established an unmatched work ethic that would serve him well throughout his entire life. An inspiration to those around him, Philip will be forever treasured in the hearts of those who knew him best.
The early 1940s are remembered as years of hardships and trials in America. World War II devastated much of the globe, calling countless young servicemen and women across the world to defend the lives of others. However, even in the bleak front of war, there was a spot of joy in the lives of Edward and Ruth (King) Sweeney of Detroit, Michigan, as they awaited the birth of their baby with breathless anticipation. Finally, on November 24, 1945, their wait was over as the joyful parents welcomed their new son, Philip Matthew, into their hearts and home. The youngest of four, Philip grew up alongside his siblings Tim, Paul and Nell. His father worked for the Catholic Church under Bishop Babcock, and when the bishop moved to Grand Rapids, so did the Sweeney family.
Phil and his family settled on the Southeast side of Grand Rapids where he was a typical young boy of his generation. They were members at St. Stephen Parish, which is where he had first communion and served as an altar boy. Phil attended schools locally including Catholic Central High School. His first job was as a soda jerk at Peterson’s Drug Store where he also pumped gas. After graduating from high school Phil went on to Grand Rapids Junior College and then joined the Marine Reserves. As a young man his first marriage ended after about 10 years.
New and exciting changes were in store for Phil when he was introduced to Deborah “Debbie” Stovall by a mutual friend. He was smitten right away but he had to pursue her before she agreed to go out with him. After falling deeply in love Phil and Debbie were married on October 21, 1978, at Plainfield United Methodist Church. Together they built their lifelong home in Comstock Park which is also where they raised their two girls, Emily and Sarah. As a father Phil was a stern disciplinarian but he was also very soft and emotional. He was full of love for his girls and it was demonstrated in his harsh protections, stern advice, and years of just spending time with them. Phil was there for all their sports events and activities,and his daughters always knew he was there as he was the guy who was yelling until he was red in the face - and then he would yell some more. Since he loved cooking, Phil took care of most of it. He made great chicken courdon bleu, fantastic spaghetti, and even grilled cheese and tomato soup in a special way. Phil also loved to grill. The family enjoyed a few memorable trips together including one to Disney and another to Washington, D.C. among others.
To support his family, Phil worked hard. He spent many years working as a manager at Michigan Automotive Stores, first on Bridge Street and then on Northville, NE. He had a few coworkers, but he was very social with the regular customers. Later, Phil begin working with Mid State Security, first with alarm systems but later with tethers and breathalyzers, which he enjoyed. He was never far from his work and he would also frequently listen to the police scanner. Phil retired in 2008.
Throughout his life Phil was one to keep busy. He and Debbie were rather social and enjoyed getting together with friends. Around the house Phil enjoyed mowing the lawn, and he could assemble or fix just about anything. Phil was an avid reader who enjoyed novels, and he also liked watching television to unwind. He and Debbie liked David Letterman, and he liked Cops and America’s Most Wanted. In addition to cheering on his girls in their sports, Phil was an avid sports fan who loved March Madness and was a big Michigan State fan.
Later in life Phil experienced both peaks and valleys. He and Debbie enjoyed a wonderful trip to Hawaii when they renewed their vows after 25 years of marriage. Several years later, Phil was thrilled to become a grandpa and he liked taking trips to Boston to see his first grandson. He enjoyed just getting down on the floor and playing with his grandchildren. Sadly, he suffered a stroke, which drastically changed his life as it affected his reflexes, speech, and ability to read. Although he was very frustrated with his new limitations, he truly loved seeing more grandchildren come into his life. As his health continued to limit his activities, he was most comfortable at home.
A great conversationalist who was genuine and kind, Phil Sweeney drew others near with ease. Although he could be opinionated and was known for his hot temper at times, he also had a good nature and selfless spirit. Phil worked hard, but he also took the time to enjoy life along the way. He was a loving and devoted husband and father, he was thrilled to become a grandfather later in life. Although he faced trials, Phil faced his challenges head on. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will hold near and dear to their hearts.
Philip Sweeney, age 73 of Comstock Park, passed away March 18, 2019. He is survived by his wife, Debbie; their daughters Emily (Tim) Sheard and Sarah (Ryan) Potter; grandchildren William, Abrianna, Gwendolyn, Calvin and Skylar as well as nieces and nephews. Friends are invited to remember Phil’s life and visit with his family on Thursday, March 21 from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the American Heart Association are appreciated. To read more about Phil’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com