On Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, Patrick Charles Sweeney departed this earth. Rick was a veteran and a thinker, a voracious reader, a true student of history and a man who was gifted with wry humor and appreciated it in others. Rick was a proper Irishman, evidenced through his musical tastes. He also loved the vast, wild beauty of the Bighorn Mountains, where he spent many summers with his family at the cabin.
Rick was born in Billings, Mont., on June 18, 1943, to Naomi and Charles Sweeney. At the time of Rick’s birth, Charles, a decorated B-17 pilot during World War II, was declared missing in action, and would spend nearly two years in German prisoner of war camps before being liberated by the allies in 1945. Rick was two years old when his father returned home and reunited with him and Naomi. In 1946 the family moved to a farm outside of Hardin, Mont., where Rick spent a happy childhood and was eventually joined by younger sister, Nancy, and brother, Kevin. The family moved into Hardin in 1953, where Rick attended school and graduated from Hardin High School in 1961. During his high school years, Rick played on the varsity football team for the Bulldogs as a defensive lineman. Rick then attended the University of Montana where he earned a law degree in 1968. During the summer breaks, he worked on the construction of the Yellowtail Dam south of Hardin.
In 1969, Rick entered the Air Force as a commissioned officer, beginning a 20-year career as a Judge Advocate General Officer (JAG). While he was at the university, he met and later married Diana Patrick, with whom he had five children, Shana, Charles, Michael, Darrel and Robert. They were an Air Force family, and lived in New Jersey, California, Michigan, and also spent two years stationed in Greece. After he and Diana divorced, Rick was stationed in Washington, D.C., where he finished his Air Force career as a Lieutenant Colonel and was honorably discharged. He returned to his home state of Montana and went into private practice in Billings, first as a partner with Allen Beck and later as a sole practitioner. In 1993 he married Lottie Blades, and acquired another son, Brett, whom he adopted in 2006. The marriage also brought stepson Seth into his life. Rick and Lottie divorced in 2013.
Rick was preceded in death by his father Charles, and is survived by his mother, Naomi Sweeney; brother Kevin Sweeney (Marnie); sister Nancy Keyes; children Shana (Paul) Silvestri, Charles, Michael (Laura), Darrel (Mary), Robert, Brett, stepson Seth (Sarah) Blades; nine grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Rick left this earth far too soon, but we who knew and loved him are better for it. He will be especially missed by Brett, his best buddy. Go with God.
Donations may be made in Rick’s name to, Special Olympics Montana, P.O. Box 3507, Great Falls, MT 59403.
A memorial service will be held at Dahl Funeral Chapel on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at 11 a.m. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.