Frank Sweeney, a pageantry legend, died on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the age of 84.
Frank was a man of great character and a poetic storyteller delivering each tale with his booming, radio voice. Many turned to him for advice. His thoughtful guidance would brighten your day and, in some cases, completely change your outlook on life.
Frank was born on April 20, 1933 in Boston, Massachusetts to Mary Ellen (Connell) and Francis Leo Sweeney. He served in the military and then traversed his way through Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia, ultimately landing in New York City where he resided for the past 39 years. He loved baseball and the Yankees quickly became his passion.
Frank L. Sweeney became known as “Swingin’ Sweeney” during his radio broadcasting career, which began in 1952. He was a radio personality on many stations across the country including WKNR, Keener 13 in Detroit, KYW Radio in Cleveland and Ohio Valley’s WKWK Radio, where he was also the station’s Operations Manager. Throughout his career in radio, he met and interviewed dozens of celebrities, including John Lennon.
Sweeney launched an equally successful career in pageantry in 1970, when he became the chairman of the pageant production and consulting firm, Sweeney Group based in Wheeling, VW, which handled several state events for the Miss USA Pageant system. At this same time, Frank also served as the director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston for several years. In 1977, Sweeney founded the Miss Teen All American pageant and just a year later, he joined Miss Universe, Inc., as Senior Vice President, which took him to New York City where he lived until his passing.
While at Miss Universe, Frank traveled the world overseeing the planning and operations of some of television’s most successful “live” broadcasts of the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. In fact, Swingin’ Sweeney’s golden voice was the voiceover for those same productions. In 1984, Sweeney left Miss Universe to focus on his national franchise as well as direct state pageants within the Miss USA system once again. As a state director, he served as a mentor to many individuals and created family-like bonds with several of them.
Frank built a successful life and career for himself, but it wasn’t without a few bumps in the road. Nearly 14 years ago, Frank endured bladder cancer. After successfully navigating that curve ball, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had one of his lungs removed. This did not slow him down or change his outlook on life. Four years ago, Frank described himself as serious, genial and optimistic because despite everything he’s overcome, he always stayed positive.
Frank once said in an interview, “I am a satisfied man because I did what I wanted to do. I grew up with the radio. I wanted to be on air and I was. I made it the whole way and after my playing years were over I got involved with pageantry. I wanted to be a businessman.” And a successful businessman he was.
Along Frank’s journey he positively impacted the lives of many and shall forever remain in their hearts.
He is survived by those he loved including his wife Marie Sweeney, brother Walt Sweeney and wife Linda, companion Stephanie Raha, nieces and nephews, and a pageant family that spans across the entire country!