John Sweeney, Jr.: Beloved Southern Humboldt Volunteer, People Person and a Loyal, Fun-loving Friend

This section includes both obituaries and memories. Honoring our loved ones who have died does not end immediately after their passing. We recognize that… so we’re extending our obituary section to include individuals who may have left a long time ago. If you want to remember someone who is gone, either recently or longer ago, please send a photo and a few sentences to mskymkemp@gmail.com. Tell us why you would like to honor the person–is it their birthday, the date of their passing or some other date of significance to you. 

John SweeneyJohn Joseph Sweeney Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 28, 1953.  He passed on January 28, 2017 while working around his home.  John loved being out in nature.  He was fortunate to have passed quickly surrounded by trees.

He was preceded in death by his parents Gloria Dunleavy Sweeney and John Sweeney Sr.  He is survived by his wife Doris (Blanchard), son Sean Sweeney, sister Lynne Lavanco (Carl), nephew Ryan Lavanco, the Blanchard family of Wayne, MI, the White family of Ringwood, NJ, many nieces and nephews, and dear friends all across the country.  John was always a people person and a loyal, fun-loving friend.  He graduated in 1971 from Pequannock High School in Pequannock, NJ.  He was a varsity wrestler and football player for the Panthers.  He has many childhood and high school friends that he still talks to on a regular basis.

After high school he worked as a truck driver and then at State Metal in Camden, NJ for 20+ years. Although the factory work in the smelts was a hard, dreary job, he always found the opportunity to do good in any situation.  When a co-worker traumatically lost his leg on the job, John was the one by his side until emergency services got there. John was so affected by his friend’s situation, that he gave him his Harley-Davidson Servi-Car to get around with.  The co- worker was overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity John showed him.  For John, it was just what you did for others in need of help.

While working at State Metals, he moved to Philadelphia where he made many lifelong friends and enjoyed good times.  He met his wife Doris Blanchard Sweeney during this time. In 1997 they fulfilled John’s longtime dream of moving west to California.  John and Doris married December 12, 1998.  They worked locally and bought a home in Miranda.  On May 18, 1999 they welcomed their only child Sean Sweeney.  He was John’s pride and joy.  Whenever Sean was playing sports or participating in any of the many local youth activities, John could be found on the sidelines coaching t-ball, running chains for football, cheering on the team, supporting the fundraiser of the day, etc., etc.  He just loved being there for his son, his friends, and his community.

John was a devout Catholic his whole life and a Lector at Our Lady of The Redwoods Church in Garberville.  He loved coming together for purpose and always rose to the occasion to help out when needed.  One of his favorite events each year was the Redwood Games, the local Special Olympics.  He received an award this past summer from them for his 18 years of dedication to the program.

He also enjoyed spending time at Community Cornerstone and was honored to have the opportunity to play Santa there.  John enjoyed entering the annual Flower Show in Weott and hanging out with the ladies of the Garden Club.  He could annually be found at the Salmon Creek Community School auction as the auctioneer.  He also enjoyed being part of the Watt’s Happening Power Crew at the Black Oak Ranch.  John always loved his Harleys and enjoyed all of his biker friends.  Whether they were riding for a cause or just for fun, he rarely missed an opportunity to be with this great group of people.  He enjoyed the Redwood Run most years, both as an attendee and as a volunteer for different organizations.  The biker family in Southern Humboldt was dear to his heart, as was everyone he called a friend.

Those wishing to make donations in John’s name should choose one of his favorite organizations- Community Cornerstone, local youth sports organizations, or Booster Club.  John was always a generous man and will be missed by many far and near.

Cards for the family can be sent to PO Box 723 Miranda, Ca 95553.

Mass for John will be held on February 4th at 11:00 am at Our Lady of the Redwoods Church in Garberville.  A reception will follow about 1:00 pm in Miranda at Stevens Hall with a potluck lunch.

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38 comments

  • A lot of heavy hearts in southern Humboldt today. RIP John. You are irreplaceable and will be missed

  • This is a great loss to our community. Deepest condolences to Doris and Sean– and the many others who loved him.

  • This news hit me in my heart! I never knew much of John’s background; but I’m not at all surprised by what was written.
    I first saw John, Doris, and then Sean (after he was born), at the Blue Moon. John was always SO proud of Sean. He just beamed, and loved telling me about his wonderful son.

    I send my love to Doris, Sean, his whole family, and close circle of friends.
    A Giant Angel, with a gruff New Jersey accent, has left us. I am will miss him very much.

  • Knew John from around town, rode with him a couple times, and saw him when I occasionally went to church. An all around great guy who always had a big smile and handshake for you. RIP John and sorry to the family.

  • Great Big Fellow N.J. guy..always..Love out to you and yours..Ron

  • What a great guy! A great loss. You will be missed!! So sad.
    Condolences to Doris, Sean and all who loved him. ❤️

  • Such a wonderful man. Always had a smile for all. My heart aches for his family. A huge loss to the community <3

  • Heart broken, he touched my life,ment alot to me,had a way about him,that let you know he cared.A true and genuine gentle man,with enough love to help,and touch so many,my love to Doris and Shawn.

  • RIP you will be missed but never forgotten!

  • I feel just the same as Simone. Amazing to read about the first parts of his life. I’m sure we can all hear his voice right now. RIP

  • Shocked and saddened. Our hearts ache with this news. What a wonderful man who loved his family, friends, community & God. May he rest in peace. Love & deepest sympathy to Doris & Sean.

  • Very sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was a great guy and Rich and I will miss him. My condolences to Doris and Sean. RIP John.

  • Annie Bowen Sickinger

    So saddened by the passing of John. My thoughts and prayers to Doris and Sean, I pray for strength and love and guidance to get thru these hard days ahead. May you find peace in that he was loved by all who knew him. I will miss him at all the familiar places.

  • Oh no. So very sorry to hear this. I can’t remember ever running into John when he didn’t have a big smile for me, and everyone else he met. A gentle and loving giant in many ways. Thinking of him tonight, with much sympathy for Doris, Sean and his family and friends.

  • What a huge loss. He had a big heart and always said hello. I enjoyed the short time I knew him. Rip John much respect

  • RIP big brother—-your heart and smile will be missed…………..

  • John alway greeted me with a big booming voice and a smile. I always loved running into him. I will miss him. My sincere condolences to Doris and Sean

  • A good man gone far too soon. I remember one day when John was in the store I overheard him quietly talking with an older woman about his role in an upcoming ceremony at the Catholic church. it gave me a whole new insight into a guy that up until then had been a stout fellow well met. As other folks have stated a big hearted man and an unforgettable character. You done good John. Thoughts are with those he left behind. I feel fortunate to have known him.

  • The world without you will not be near as friendly a place. Prayers and condolences for “Dor” and Shawn. I’m sure he appreciated having a good friend by his side when it was time to go. You will be missed friend.

  • I will forever miss you brother

  • John was indeed the “King Of The Buddies” at the Summer Games each year. We always try to have a Buddy assigned to each competitor to provide assistance throughout the day, and John went FAR beyond that. Each year he always had 8 or 10 athletes in his care, and was easily able to provide all the encouragement, praise, guidance, and love they needed as he shepherded them through the day. I’m thankful and blessed to have witnessed John’s sweet care for others over many years… he was truly a beautiful example of how to treat people with kindness. I love you John. Thank you.

  • I’m so sorry Dor for your loss , I really regret never getting out there to see John …… when I think of him it makes me smile ……..and now this is the second time Philly is sad ….. first when he moved and today with his passing …… xo

  • I am one of the White family from NJ,and so touched to be mentioned! I hadn’t seen John since way back in his NJ days, but have many fond memories of a good-hearted guy who was like a big brother to me then. I imagine heaven just got livelier!

  • Wow, this was bad news indeed to read. John was a great guy, loving father and husband. His spirit will be missed around southern humboldt. He was always kind, and went out of his way to help his neighbors. RIP john.

  • Will always remember John with a smile. My prayers are with Doris and Sean. XOXO

  • John and Molly Archibold

    Our son Steve Archibold telephoned Molly and me this morning about John’s death on Saturday. We knew John not only through Steve and Shanna, but also from our visits to Our Lady of the Redwoods (Molly and I are converts). I trust John will be getting ready for the great coming reunion with the communion of saints. Our sadness and shock is greatly lessened by the foregoing hope. Our prayers and love to Doris and Sean–you are surrounded by many many friends.

  • What a blow when I read this. D. John always made me smile. The Earth has tilted a little with his absence.

  • From the Whites in Ringwood, NJ. We agree w/all above. So shocking, he was so full of life. Our hearts go out to Doris & Sean. We looked forward to the few times he was able to visit and enjoyed the time we spent with John and his family in the redwoods. Heaven is booming!

  • My deepest condolences to Johns family. I first met John in the Cub Scouts when we were kids. I remember his great sense of humor and the laughs we shared in high school. He was a good guy! R.I.P. John.

  • I loved and will always love him. He was an awesome friend. My heart is broken. I’m always here for you Doris and Shaun and for Burt. John was an angel here on earth, and I’m so proud to call him my friend. Thank you for leaving a part of your wonderful soul in my heart. I shall always love you.

  • I am soo deeply sorry for for the worlds loss of John but especially for those closest to him. To me he was always Uncle Johnny…a great big teddy bear who loved his family fiercely. I didnt get to see him much in recent years but will always treasure the time i got to spend with him. Our lives are all richer having known him. My love and prayers go out to Doris Sean Lynne and Ryan.

  • I met John once at Lynne’s and immediately felt his kindness and generous nature.I have lost loved ones and my deepest heart felt sympathy goes out to his family.May God give you grace in this sad time.

  • What a beautiful tribute to such a well respected and loved man. RIP Uncle John. I love you Aunt Doris and Sean.

  • Smartest man I ever met intellectually

  • The true definition of a respected and outstanding man; John was always a
    happy and fun guy to be around. It’s hard to imagine physically he will not be with his family and friends. However, all who knew him will always have him with them in their hearts, minds and memories. He will be with us all in spirit. Deepest,sincerest sympathies to Doris, Sean, Lynn, Ryan, family and friends.

  • Just learned of John’s death this weekend. He was a generous and joyful fellow! I recall a mission of mercy we made to the Catholic mission in Hoopa dropping off a large donation of items for their yard sale.
    His years of faithful lectoring at Our Lady of Redwoods will be missed.

    Fly with your brother and sister angelitos hombre!

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