Cover photo for Billy Sweeney's Obituary
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1924 Billy 2021

Billy Sweeney

January 11, 1924 — July 25, 2021

Billy Kathryn Sandlin Sweeney

 

Billy Kathryn Sandlin Sweeney was born on January 11, 1924, in Old Gulf, Texas. Her parents were Virgil Loen “Red” Sandlin and Jessie Odessa “J.O.” Stewart Sandlin.

The second girl of three sisters, Billy lived in numerous Texas cities/towns including Old Gulf, Franklin, Blessing, and the family farm in Wharton. She graduated from Wharton High School in 1941. The highlight of her senior year was on May 9, 1941,  when Billy was crowned Queen of Wharton High School. She was escorted by the King of Wharton High School - her then boyfriend (and future husband) Dan Sweeney Jr. One of the most popular girls in school, Billy was also the leader of the Pep Squad and was an honor graduate.

After high school, Billy attended Texas State Teachers College in Denton, TX for one year, then transferred to Sam Houston State in Huntsville, TX. At Sam Houston State, Billy was president of Elliott Hall, a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, A.C.E, and W.A.A. She also taught in Aldine and Hungerford while attending school. Her college career ended her senior year when Dan Sweeney came home from the war. They were married at the Methodist church in Wharton on December 9, 1945. After honeymooning in Monterey, Mexico, Billy and Dan lived in several states as Dan was still in the service. They lived in a rooming house in Riverside, California, a swimming pool bathhouse converted into an apartment for Air Force families in Tucson, Arizona, and an apartment above a garage in Ft. Worth, Texas. While living in Ft. Worth, Dan was an instructor at the Fort Worth Army Air Base.

Upon Dan’s release from the service, he and Billy moved back to Wharton, started their family, and Billy taught at Wharton Elementary School. During these years Billy had four sons so she retired from teaching to stay home with her growing family.

Billy was a loved, respected, and active community member. She was the treasurer of the Wharton Little League Baseball program and was also a Cub Scout Den Mother. In 1960, Billy approached the leaders of St. Thomas Episcopal Church with her idea of starting a badly needed nursery school and kindergarten program. By the next year not only was she the Founder and Director of the program, but she also taught nursery school and kindergarten classes. Billy was a true educator at heart and hundreds of students benefitted from her foresight and passion for educating children. Setting high standards for the little ones, Billy taught and led with an amazing knowledge of what early education should entail. She knew a strong, fundamental education program was imperative for the growth of not only the children’s academics, but also their social skills development. The students graduated from St. Thomas with a superior base of knowledge that set them apart from other first graders entering public school for the first time. When Billy retired from St. Thomas in 1973, she was honored by the Board of Directors for her contributions to the now well-established program.

Always looking for a way to help others, Billy volunteered for many years at the Gulf Coast Medical Center where she was named Outstanding Volunteer Worker for the 1980-1981 year.

As a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, Billy wrote an anti-smoking program for the ACS and AHA that she presented to numerous schools in New Gulf, East Bernard, El Campo, and Wharton. When Billy served as the Jump Rope for Heart Chairman in 1999-2000, more than $16,000 was raised due to her efforts of working with the local schools throughout the Wharton County area. In 2000, she received the Regional Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Heart Association.

Billy was the original “Cake Boss,” making elaborate 3-dimensional birthday cakes for her sons throughout the years. Nothing was too hard for her to concoct whether it was a pirate ship, airplane, train, or circus parade. Her cakes were legendary among the neighborhood children.

In addition to her baking skills, Billy started doing cross-stitch and embroidery work. The intricate, beautiful designs Billy cross-stitched onto pillows and artwork were amazing to see. She gifted her creations to numerous friends and family who considered it a treasure to receive some of Billy’s framed handiwork.  Ceramics also captured Billy’s interest when she began making small, decorative Christmas trees that were lit from within. Billy loved Christmas decorations and live Christmas trees that were flocked with her homemade “snow” made from Ivory Soap flakes and liquid starch whipped together with hot water. The resulting mixture was dropped by the spoonful on the tree making it look like real snow clinging to the branches. Combining that “snow” with some original bubbling Christmas tree lights made a tree that was a wonder to behold.

Billy was a creative, imaginative woman who generously shared her talents and intelligence with others. She was gifted with an incredible thirst for knowledge and an interest in innumerable subjects. A passionate reader, Billy always had a book by her side or in her hand. Billy had the rare combination of brilliance and artistic ability that showed throughout her lifetime.

Billy was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Dan, her oldest sister Margaret and her younger sister, Beth, who was her best friend. She is survived by her sons Mike Sweeney and his wife Laura, Mark Sweeney, Mac Sweeney and his wife Cathy, and Myles Sweeney and his wife Sallie. Billy had 19 grandchildren, all of whom felt an extra dose of the passion, kindness, wisdom, and love she had for the world around her, and 17 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her nephew Ed Covington, her niece Shanna Lynn Covington Wands, her nephew Dorian Anderson, and her dearly loved niece Jessica Anderson.

The family expresses appreciation to these caregivers who were with Billy during the last few years of her life; Iryna Melnyk, Josie Garcia, Lupe Araguz, Helen Knight, Lupita Zamudio, and the wonderful staff at Clayton Oaks Assisted Living.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, August 7, 2021 at 2pm at Grace Community Fellowship Church in Wharton.

Memorial gifts can be made to the American Heart Association.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Billy Sweeney, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

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