Walter J. Sweetman
March 10, 1937 - January 8, 2021
Walter Jarvis Sweetman was born in Sioux Falls, SD, the son of Charles and Nina-Mae Sweetman and sibling to Mike, Lucia and Sarah. He grew up primarily in Iowa and South Dakota, and attended both Creighton and Marquette Universities, graduating with a degree in civil engineering. He wed Mary “Pat” Kenkel in 1961, and their long marriage continues to inspire everyone who knew them as a couple. Their commitment to each other, their family, the Catholic church, and their community found expression in their Midwestern hospitality, kindness, and shared moral compass. Walt’s career entailed many moves, from Arkansas to Canada to California, and Egypt. The love of each of their extended families- Kenkels and Sweetmans - sustained them as they moved. Along the way, they also made very special friends from many parts of the US and the world. They stayed in touch with an unfailing correspondence. If the many uprootings were stressful, it would be hard to tell from the calm, assured world of the Sweetman house. A good part of this calm came from parents who were capable, creative, and hard-working, intent on setting an example for their children.
Another part would be Walt’s optimism. His unfailing confidence that most problems would yield to effort and others could be out-lived with the support of family and faith instilled in his children a sense that their futures were wide open, provided they were willing to work hard. His grandchildren found in Boppa a ready source of affirmation for any semi-reasonable plan, wish, or life choice. He was one of those rare conversationalists for whom the distractions of the world disappeared while he listened and whose questions and observations along the way made one feel valuable and special. Though even-tempered and not given to much spectacle, Walt loved goofy jingles and odd sayings, a habit that will readily come to mind by readers who knew him well, such as the hale effects of nutrition on ambition or the glad feeling of returning home after a time away.
After a long and rewarding career, Walt and Pat retired to Arizona, where their house and casita were a hub of family activities and the site of countless memories and stories. When Pat encountered medical difficulties that curtailed many activities like driving and writing, Walt cared for Pat with a dedication that perhaps shows the quality of his character better than anything else. They moved to Denver to be close to immediate family, where they continued to enrich (and be enriched by) the lives of their family and the community of Vi in Highlands Ranch.
Walt Sweetman died of complications arising from heart failure and Covid-19. He is survived and sorely missed by his wife Pat, his children Jeff, Chuck, Matt, and Lisa, their spouses Mary Beth, Beth, Gina, and Pete, as well as grandchildren Nick, Claire, Brenden, Emily, Quinn, Joey, and Olivia.
Funeral services and celebration of life events will be postponed, pending a safer environment to gather.
In lieu of flowers, please send cards to Pat Sweetman, c/o Lisa Incitti, to 3930 South Hillcrest Drive, Denver, CO 80237.
Please enjoy a video of his life below: