Obituary: Clayton A. Sweeney / High profile attorney, father, mentor

Oct. 20, 1931- Jan. 27 2014

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In conference rooms and courtrooms, Clayton A. Sweeney was known as a stickler for procedure and an unyielding mentor who demanded perfection from those surrounding him.

At home surrounded by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, Mr. Sweeney was more accurately described as "a goofball," who thrived on candy before dinner and teaching little ones to make messes from their high chairs, said daughter Tara Hughes.

"He loved babies and children, he loved to be around them, to be able to make them laugh and to teach them bad habits," Ms. Hughes joked.

Mr. Sweeney, a titan in Pittsburgh law and a tireless community servant, died Monday following a brief illness. He was 82.

Mr. Sweeney began his journey into law at Duquesne University in 1957 and earned his law degree in 1962. After gaining admittance to the state bar in 1962 and the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968, Mr. Sweeney embarked on a career that took him to the ranks of partner at Buchanan, Ingersall, Rodewald, Kyle and Buerger, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP and Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote in addition to heading his own firm, Sweeney Metz Fox McGrann & Schermer.

Beyond law firms, Mr. Sweeney held executive positions with several organizations, including senior vice president at Ludlum Industries, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Allegheny International.

He also sat on boards for Wilkinson Sword Group Ltd., Koppers Industries Inc., U.K. Landmark Savings and Loan and Schaefer Manufacturing, to name a few. He was an adjunct professor at Duquesne University School of Law, a lecturer at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's procedural rules committee.

He was recognized by Duquesne University as a distinguished alumnus of the school of law and was named one of the 100 Most Distinguished Living Alumni by the university's Century Club.

When Mr. Sweeney wasn't working or spending time with extended family at their home in Bemus Point, N.Y., Mr. Sweeney threw his energy into service with several community organizations, including Seton Hill College, St. Francis Medical Center, Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma and Pittsburgh Public Broadcasting, to name a few.

Although Mr. Sweeney's diligence and attention to detail were lauded among colleagues, his talent for teaching new employees to follow his lead is something that resonated at work and at home, said daughters Lorrie Zupon and Maureen Sweeney.

"He would always like to take younger lawyers under his wing and teach them good work habits and research habits," Ms. Zupon said.

"A lot of us [children] are teachers in different ways and some of that comes from Dad. Teaching wasn't his principal profession, but whatever he was doing he was always teaching someone."

In addition to Ms. Hughes, 48, of Buffalo, N.Y., Lorrie Zupon, 52, and Maureen Sweeney, 51, of Baltimore, Md., Mr. Sweeney is survived by daughters Sharon Carmody, 54, of Minneapolis, and Megan Sweeney, 46, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and son Clayton Jr., 50, of Philadelphia.

A Mass will be celebrated today at 12:30 in St. Thomas More Church in Bethel Park. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent in the name of Clayton A. Sweeney to the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York, Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, the Robert H. Jackson Center, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma or The Retreat residential recovery program.


Deborah M. Todd: dtodd@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1652.

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