Gary J. Sweeney
November 12, 1944 — September 06, 2023
Gary Joseph Sweeney, of Des Moines, passed away Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Care Center of Lewy-Body Dementia at the age of 78. Gary was born to Cletus and Ella Sweeney in Waukon, Iowa, on November 12, 1944. He lived in Waukon until the 3rd grade when he and his family moved to Waterloo.
Gary is survived by: his children and their spouses, Keevan and Mike Kosidowski of Eagan, MN, Jennifer and Kevin Zaugg of Carlisle, IA, Chris and Missy Sweeney of Waterloo, IA; his grandchildren, Ally, Danielle, Jack (Reilly), CarLee, Ava, Fay, Lily, Ella, and Emmett; his siblings, Bonnie Ehle of Wisconsin, Pat (Katy) Sweeney of Waterloo, Terry (Sue) Sweeney of Waterloo, Nancy (Mark) Boesen of Waterloo, and Jan (Mike) Etringer of Waterloo; his sister-in-law Rhonda Dickerson of Omaha, and his brother-in-law David (Carol) Lesher of Grimes.
After graduating from Waterloo Columbus High School, Gary graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls majoring in business and logistics. Gary met his future wife, Melanie, in Nevada, Iowa, where they were both employed at RR Donnelly. They were married on June 10, 1972, in Melanie’s hometown of Clarion, Iowa. Gary and Melanie moved to Des Moines in 1973 when he began working at Central Tractor Farm & Family. He was employed at CT for over 30 years as the Vice President of warehousing, trucking, and logistics. Gary and Melanie made Des Moines their home for over 40 years until Melanie’s passing in 2012.
Together, Gary and Melanie loved traveling, spending time with their families, dining out with friends, and attending Iowa Hawkeye football games at Kinnick while also cheering on ISU and UNI.
One of Gary’s loves was bowling. He started bowling in high school with his friends and took a bowling class at UNI. The story goes that the professor asked the students their bowling averages on the first day of class. When Gary said his average, the professor said, “You’re teaching the class. I’ll be back at the end of the semester.” Gary was on many bowling teams over the years and always competed at state bowling tournaments.
Another of Gary’s passions was golfing with his friends. He loved golf even more when his children and grandchildren took up the sport.
If you’ve ever been around the Sweeneys, you’ll know their love of playing cards, especially Euchre. Gary’s high school friends, Tom and Larry, would go over to the Sweeney’s on Lafayette Street and play Euchre with his parents and siblings. There was never a Sweeney gathering when a deck of cards wasn’t shuffled.
Gary’s favorite place to be on a Saturday in the fall was tailgating in Iowa City at his parking spot with his family and friends, taking a shot of Fireball before walking up Melrose Avenue, and cheering on the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Gary and Melanie had season tickets since the 1980s and followed the Hawkeyes to other Big Ten Stadiums.
Gary was preceded in death by his wife, Melanie; his parents, Cletus and Ella Sweeney; Melanie’s parents, Melvin and Lois Lesher; Melanie’s sister, Linda Jurrens; and his nieces, Janette Jacobs and Billie Sweeney.
Visitation will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Monday, September 18, 2023, at Hamilton’s Funeral Home, 605 Lyon Street, Des Moines, followed by burial at Laurel Hill Cemetery at 3:30 p.m.
Memorial contributions received by the family will be given in memory of Gary to Gentiva Hospice.