MARBLEHEAD — He had a devotion to the Democratic Party and a penchant for taking charge. He took the chairmanship as a library trustee and was a member of the Light Commission. Thus, the passing of Phil Sweeney has left a void.
Former Town Clerk Tom McNulty remembers decades ago when Sweeney made an unsuccessful run at a sitting Republican state representative. He lost, but McNulty believes he did well enough that it may have influenced the legislator’s decision to step down the following year.
“I remember Phil and (wife) Marcia Sweeney as customers of mine at the movie theater (the Warwick). I just thought of them as a really nice couple.” McNulty got to know Phil better as he became more involved in town government and the Democratic party. “I have voted for Republicans,” he said, laughing. “I don’t think Phil ever did.”
“For Phil, being a Democrat was about values,” Marblehead’s favorite Democratic political consultant Michael Goldman said. “It wasn’t just about politics. He’s committed to the party.” Statewide candidates valued Sweeney’s support and often came courting, he said.
Judy Gates worked with Sweeney as a library trustee. “He cared a lot about the town. And he certainly worked hard for the library.” Not only did he devote himself to the physical upkeep of Abbot Public Library, but when there were problems, he knew just who should be consulted.
“He was an enthusiastic person about everything he did,” Gates said. “He loved his family.”
“Many times, he and I disagreed,” Selectman Judy Jacobi said. “But I paid attention to him because he always did his homework.” For that matter, she said, he was his own man. “He never put his finger in the air to see how the wind was blowing.”
“He will be sorely missed,” Selectman Harry Christensen said.