Donald Sweeney, Father of Disney-ABC Executive Anne Sweeney, Dies at 88

Donald Sweeny Headshot - P 2014
Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Donald Sweeny Headshot - P 2014

He had a 38-year career in education as a teacher in New York

Donald Sweeney, the father of top Disney-ABC executive Anne Sweeney who as an educator in the Kingston, N.Y., school system achieved breakthroughs in the integration of intellectually challenged children, has died. He was 88.

He began his 38-year career in education as a teacher in the Baldwinsville (N.Y.) Central School and then as a principal at Hudson Junior High School in Hudson, N.Y. He continued his career as an elementary school principal at the #4 and Colonel Meagher, John F. Kennedy, Harry L. Edson and Edward Crosby elementary schools in Kingston before retiring in 1987.

A native of White Plains, N.Y., and graduate of White Plains High School, Sweeney enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17, serving as a corporal in the Second Marine Division during World War II.

He was a forward observer in Saipan, Tinian, The Marshalls, Guam and Okinawa. He also served as an MP in Nagasaki, service that initiated a lifelong interest in the Japanese people and culture. Sweeney was a member of the Second Marine Division Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

After his military service, Sweeney earned his bachelor’s degree in education from SUNY Oswego in 1952 and his masters in education from Syracuse University two years later. He received a certificate of advanced study in education from SUNY New Paltz and completed post-graduate work at New York University and SUNY Albany.

In addition to his daughter and her husband, Philip, Sweeney is survived by his wife of 60 years, Anne, whom he met when both were beginning teachers in Baldwinsville; other children Donald and Rosemary; and grandchildren Christopher, Rosemary, Shelagh, Michaela, Catherine, Elizabeth and Brigid.

A mass was celebrated at St. Monica Church in Santa Monica on Wednesday. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the following charities in Donald Sweeney’s name: UCLA Medical Center, Autism Speaks and Stand Up to Cancer.