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Michael N. “Mike” Sweeney

October 14, 2021

Visitation: MONDAY, October 14, 2019: 2-4 & 7-9 pm at The Dietrich Funeral Homes, Inc., 2480 Kensington Ave., Amherst.
Service: TUESDAY, October 15, 2019: A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 am at St. Joseph University Church, Buffalo. SWEENEY – Michael N. “Mike”
October 11, 2019. Beloved husband
of 31 years to Kimberly Sweeney;
loving father of Samantha (Matthew)
General and Michael (Hailey Ables)
Sweeney Jr.; dear Pops of Griffin
General; brother of Thomas (Dolores)
Sweeney, James (the late Elizabeth)
Sweeney and Mary Ann (Robin Mills)
Sweeney and the late Alan Boddy; also
survived by many nieces and nephews
and his beloved English Bulldog Olive.
Family and friends may call on Monday
from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at DIETRICH
Kensington Ave., Amherst NY 14226.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be
celebrated on Tuesday at 10 AM at St.
Joseph University Church, 3269 Main
St., Buffalo 14214. Please assemble
at church. In lieu of flowers, memorials
may be made to Rosewell Park Alliance
Foundation. Online condolences at March 11, 1961 – Oct. 11, 2019

Rock, country and bluegrass music always spoke to Michael Sweeney, since he was a child.

The Williamsville resident took up the banjo when he was 11 and tried to carry on in the footsteps of the old masters of the genre.

"He liked the old musicians: Earl Scruggs, Merle Haggard, George Thorogood," said his daughter, Samantha General.

"He was an exceptional banjo player and he was a lead guitarist in bluegrass and rock bands most of his life. That’s how he met my mom," she added.

Mr. Sweeney, who played in bars throughout Chicago – and later Buffalo – died Friday at his home, surrounded by family, after a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 58.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Sweeney grew up mostly in Chicago, where he graduated from high school and immediately started playing in country bands there. One of the bands he played for was fronted by his future mother-in-law. He married the former Kimberly Strawbridge in 1988.

When the couple moved back to Mr. Sweeney’s hometown in 1989, he gave up playing in bands full time, and his former vocation became an avocation. He studied history at the University at Buffalo.

In Buffalo, he played bars, such as Nietzsche’s on Allen Street and the Central Park Grill on Main Street. Mr. Sweeney played in a band called Fools Like Us, which also used the acronym, the FLU, his daughter said.

"He would never admit it, because he was very humble when it came to his musical talent, but he was a very talented musician," she said.

Mr. Sweeney was a volunteer and advocate of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. It was there he began playing for patients and staff with his longtime friend Bill Blanford. They also played acoustic music together at local parks and farmers markets, in addition to birthday parties, weddings and graduations.

In 2014, Mr. Sweeney was diagnosed with head and neck cancer while he was in the process of preparing for a kidney transplant, General said.

He "fought through that and survived that cancer, and then he ended up getting the new kidney two years ago. Then he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer – totally unrelated – three months ago," his daughter said.

General said her father was a stained glass artist who dabbled in woodworking and loved genealogy. He also was an avid crossword puzzle solver, and a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

"He was just happy to see them win the World Series (in 2016). That was a big night for us," General said.

In addition to doting on his new grandson, Griffin – who turned 1 in September – Mr. Sweeney enjoyed a special connection with his English bulldog, Olive.

"Everyone who knows him knows about Olive because he has had her since before he was sick and they’ve been together through everything," General said.

In addition to his wife of 31 years and his daughter, Mr. Sweeney is survived by a son, Michael; two brothers, Thomas and James; and a sister, Mary Ann.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Joseph’s University Parish, 3269 Main St.Buffalo


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