Longtime Kodiak resident Nancy Ann Norman Sweeney passed away peacefully at home on September 26, 2021. She was 86.
Nancy was born on October 17, 1934 at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, Washington. She was an only child and lived with her parents in Seattle until the family moved to Kodiak, Alaska in 1944 when Nancy was nine years old. Nancy and her mother made the journey together to join her father who had traveled earlier to Kodiak to buy a business that eventually became known as Norman’s Photo and Gift Shop. They sailed aboard the Alaska Steamship, USS Denali, 335 feet long and 51 feet wide. It was quite an adventure! This ship had been converted to a military troop ship and could only carry a limited number of civilian passengers. There were only five women and two children on board. A strict blackout was observed because of enemy submarines in the area. At a stop in Seward, the ship picked up one thousand additional troops who were going to the Western Aleutian Islands, as these islands were occupied by the Japanese. There were 25,000 service men in Kodiak during World War II.
Nancy attended school in Kodiak, and during her high school years, she was a cheerleader and on the volleyball team, junior prom committee, and the girl’s glee club. There were sixty-four students at Kodiak High School, and fourteen of these were in the graduating class of 1952. After graduation, Nancy attended the University of Montana for a year, and then returned to Kodiak where she went to work at the Bank of Kodiak as a teller and bookkeeper.
Nancy met the love of her life, Thomas “Tom” Cornelius Sweeney in 1954. Tom first came to Kodiak as a member of the United States Navy after serving in Korea. They were married in Kodiak in 1955 and were blessed with two sons, Mike and John.
Tom’s career progression as a territorial policeman, detective, state trooper, and private investigator took the Sweeneys off-island for a time to Bozeman, Montana, and to Anchorage, Delta Junction, and Fairbanks, Alaska. Following the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and Tsunami, the family returned to Kodiak to help Nancy’s parents with their store, Norman’s. Nancy remained with the business until retiring in 1995. Tom’s career transitioned from law enforcement to oil sales to auto dealership to insurance brokerage before retiring in 1996. Tom and Nancy celebrated sixty years of marriage in 2015.
Nancy was a voracious reader of all genres and her favorite hobbies were cooking, gardening, genealogy, and traveling. Her favorite off-island travel destinations were Maui, England, Greece, Ireland, and Norway. Through the years, she was active in Kodiak Pioneers of Alaska, Kodiak Arts Council Kodiak Elks Lodge, Kodiak Historical Society, Kodiak Elks Lodge, and American Legion. She greatly loved her family, friends, pet labradoodle, and life in Kodiak. Nancy enjoyed hosting festive dinner gatherings, and her favorite times were telling stories and laughing with friends and family. There were no strangers in a Sweeney gathering, as everyone was immediately welcomed as friends.
Nancy was preceded in death by her husband Thomas “Tom” Sweeney, parents, Leif and Georgia Norman, and Tom’s parents, Cornelius and Mary Ellon “May” Sweeney.
She is survived by son, Mike Sweeney and wife, Cindy Sweeney; son, John Sweeney and wife, Nancy B. Sweeney; grandchildren, Michael Allen and wife, Leisa Allen; Patrick Sweeney; Alex Sweeney and wife, Leisha Sweeney; David Sweeney; great grandchildren, Logan Allen, Anna Tempke, and Adalyn Sweeney; sister-in-law Mary Alice Upton, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was also blessed to have numerous loving friends.
A celebration of her life is planned for October 23, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. at the American Legion, Kodiak.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Pioneers of Alaska Kodiak/scholarship fund/P.O. Box 684, Kodiak, Alaska. Condolences may be sent to the family at P.O. Box 9046, Kodiak, AK 99615. May the road rise up to greet you and may the wind be always at your back, Nancy Ann Norman Sweeney, for you will be greatly missed.