The Rev. Donald L. “Don” Sweet and his sweetheart and wife of 68 years, Marion, died within three days of one another this week. The Rev. Sweet, 91, passed away at home in Broadacres in Powell at 12:45 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3. Three days later, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7 a.m., Marion, 88, passed away in their home.
The Sweets are the parents of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Sweet, pastor of the Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Powell. Don and Marion sang in the Beaver Creek Sanctuary Choir for many years until their health declined. For many years they were members of the Bible 101 Sunday school class until recently when they switched to the Lamplighters class.
Ministry in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church runs in the family. The Sweets’ granddaughter, the Rev. Anna Sweet-Brockman (Thomas Sweet’s daughter), is a graduate of Powell High School and Bethel University. She is an associate pastor at the Winchester (TN) Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Ironically, Marion and Don recently fell in their home on the same day – Jan. 21 – that led to the declining health for both. She suffered a broken hip in the fall that sent her to Parkwest Medical Center for 13 days. She was able to come home, and they were both in hospice care.
Don was born June 5, 1927, to Aubrey Chester “A.C.” and Nellie Farr Sweet in Springfield, Mo. Don graduated from Messick High School in Memphis in 1945 and immediately went into the U.S. Navy, which sent him to radar school. After the Navy, he started college at Fresno State in California but finished in 1950 at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn., before attending the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, also in McKenzie at that time. Today the seminary is in Memphis.
In 1946, Don came under the care of California Presbytery. He was licensed by California Presbytery in 1948 and ordained by Madison Presbytery on Sept. 26, 1950.
Besides those already mentioned, Don was a member at various times of McGee-New Lebanon Presbytery, Pacific Presbytery, North Central Texas Presbytery, Ewing-McLin-Illinois Presbytery, Hopewell Presbytery and the Presbytery of East Tennessee.
His pastorates included Shinar in Iowa, Trinity in Fort Worth, Texas, Fairfield in Illinois, Desert Gardens in Tucson, and Chandler in Indiana. He organized the Trona Cumberland Presbyterian Church in California.
In 1956, Don wrote “My Baby and Its Church” for the Board of Christian Education. He also contributed to the “Cumberland Presbyterian” magazine and the now-defunct “Cumberland Worker.”
Marion was born in Murray, Ky., on May 14, 1930, to Curtis and Ila Mae Copeland. Marion and Don were married on Aug. 21, 1950, and had four children – John, Mark, Donna and Thomas.
At many of their pastoral stops, Marion would be the church’s pianist, choir director or even organist. She was a music major and also a graduate of Bethel, where they met.
“Whatever the church didn’t have, Mom would step in and do the jobs,” son Thomas remembers. “She also loved directing the children’s choirs.”
Marion was a member of Beaver Creek’s Sarah Prater Circle. She also served the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination as a member of the church’s Joint Unification Committee, studying the proposed unity of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Second Cumberland Church.
The Sweets will be cremated, according to Thomas Sweet, and a joint memorial service will be held at a later date to be announced.