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Laguna’s First Female Mayor Dies

Above, a recent look at Phyllis Sweeny, and below, aloof at her early campaign literature.

Above, a recent look at Phyllis Sweeny, and below, aloof at her early campaign literature.

Phyllis Sweeney, the first woman mayor of Laguna Beach, died Monday, Dec. 3.

Sweeney became active in Laguna politics during the campaign against high rise development in 1971 and was appointed to the City Council in 1972, elected in 1974 and served a contentious term as mayor from 1976 to 1977 as part of a coalition which profoundly changed the character of the town, from the design of Main Beach Park to the beginning of what became the Laguna Greenbelt.

3 sweeney campaign flyerShe was born in Jamestown, N.Y., in 1925. She graduated from the University of Maryland and married her high-school boyfriend Jim Sweeney in 1947. They and their four children moved to Laguna Beach in 1961, where she began a long career selling real estate.

In addition to her involvement with Village Laguna, Sweeney helped to found the Friendship Shelter and was an active member of the Unitarian Universalists and many other organizations. She loved classical music, played piano, and faithfully attended opera, symphony and chamber music performances. She traveled widely, touring Europe, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands. She is survived by her four children, Pam, Jim, Mike and Mark, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held for her on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

 

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