A Man For All Seasons: Kevin Sweeney is dead at 83

(The Rosenblums), writers, inventors — the Vilchers — stretching into circles involving doctors — notably the Burgs — lawyers, notably the Koplovitzes; Eric Van Cort and big Herb Von Klug, politicians, firemen, butchers, bakers, indian chiefs, and an ever-growing fiefdom of extremely loyal employees. For as Simulaids prospered so did those who worked there. At its height (and including a video store just over the railroad tracks in Saugerites) Sweeney employed 75 people, which, I’d guess was second only to Rotron. Kevin drove a Porsche with panache and a Cadillac as family man; he fancied a top hat on formal occasions or when the urge moved him. Indeed, there was an unpredictable side to our town’s unofficial mayor. Kevin quoted page after page of poetry — Yeats and the Romantics, mostly, although he was known to roam as far as into this pagan century as TS Eliott. His daughter Bridget remembers him sometimes and — always quite suddenly — packing a tiny bag with a clean shirt, underwear, and a shaving kit, driving to the nearest airport and there getting on a plane for someplace he thought interesting. Usually but not always…with a beach.

It was on such an impromptu vacation in St. Maarten than Sweeney suffered his first major heart attack in 1983. Recovering fully, he remained at the helm of Simulaids until it was sold in 1999, yet allowed more and more of the day to day to be handled by a team made up Georgette Cutler, Greg Zindulka, Jane Boice, and Beverly Hanson, Exec Vice President. It was Beverly, who at one of the weekly pizza-night employee meetings, asked how many folks at Simulaids knew CPR. Only a few hands were raised. So it came to be that every Simulaid employee learned to save lives — even Beverly — who was the last to take the course.


In the late summer of Kevin’s life a sea-change took shape on the horizon, and romantic destiny steered his ship to a different shore. Sid Slayton married Kevin and Beverly in 1999, Simulaids was sold the same year, and Kevin then bought the oldest builiding in town — The Baumgarten Farmhouse on ten acres. Between trips to Europe the couple fell to restoring the proud though sorely neglected manse originally built in 1720.


In 2001 Beverly saved Kevin’s life administering CPR’s “kiss of life,” which she herself had decreed a necessity for all Simulaids employees. Sweeney bounced back, returning to the front row of every local art auction, his hand perpetually raised. Beverly’s son, Chris, assisted with the farmhouse re-hab, and a formal garden designed by neighbors and dear friends Richard Suma and Donald Elder adorns the side yard, near the new pool. Kevin’s country-squire persona reached its apotheosis in rooms of stone and wood and plaster. Yeats sounds better recited in such a house. The Hessian ghost was obliged to leave (it was only women could see him, anyway.) Kevin mowed the grounds, plowed the road, laid the fires. He entertained his own children and grandchildren and a vast adopted family of Beverly’s. Her favorite poets are Frost and Dickinson, her charity? — the SmileTrain; her favorite place on earth? The home where she brought Kevin and herself much comfort and joy, and nursed him through his final years. She sat at his side as he left this world. And now? He is “Sweeney Among The Nightingales…” at last. And without a doubt…our Man for All Seasons.


Kevin is survived by his wife Beverly (Mooers) Sweeney; former wife Linda Sweeney; daughters Shannon Sweeney and husband Lowell and Bridget Sweeney-Bell and husband Douglas; and son Seamus Sweeney and Lisa Hoppin; grandchildren Julian Hom and Laurel Hom; stepsons Bob Hanson and wife Cara, Chris Hanson and wife Patty, and stepdaughter Sue Whitaker; stepgrandchildren Chris Whitaker, Marc Whitaker, Nicole LaDue, Jenna Hanson, Mikey Hanson, Drew Hanson and Abbey Hanson. Kevin was predeceased by two brothers Donald and Francis, and one nephew Donald.

A memorial service to celebrate Kevin’s life will be held at the Bearsville Theater, Sunday, April 29, at noon. Arrangements are by Lasher Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry or Woodstock area Meals on Wheels.++

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