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Jean Sweeney, 1939 – 2011

by Gretchen Lipow

One of the finest citizens of our island city, Jean Sweeney, was a victim of pancreatic cancer, dying the day after Thanksgiving of this year.

When I retired in 2004 from the Alameda school system and decided to learn more about our city, I paid a visit to Jean Sweeney’s home and there began my education and local activism. She was a human encyclopedia chocked full of information about Alameda.

More than that, she was a committed, passionate person who served the community first and foremost. She wasn’t involved for her own aggrandizement and fortune, rather it was so evident to see her focus on the health and welfare of our town.

She had a keen mind, read everything and could reflect and think clearly on issues and problems. She was open as well, asking questions about the details probing for the essence of issues.

And when SunCal came to town with their awful 300 page initiative she was the first to read it word by word and cull out the hidden language of its insidious plan. I was amazed at her grasp of complicated legal issues and ability to analyze and understand legal language.

Sometimes I would join her in working on puzzles or listen to her sing pow-wow songs that she learned on the reservations where she lived as a child.

Her contributions were real. She believed in open space as a necessity to a healthy quality of life, rolled up her shirt sleeves and went to work. She made it happen. Her dedication to this community is etched in our consciousness and will live on for generations.

I will miss her terribly but treasure the time I knew her.

All are invited to attend her memorial, Sunday December 11th at 2:00 p.m. at the Elks Club on Santa Clara at Oak.

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