Deborah Lynn “Debbie” Sweeney, DNSc., of Memphis, passed away at age 65 on June 29, 2018, from complications following surgery. Debbie was born in Tullahoma, TN, on February 14, 1953. She was a graduate of Tullahoma High School and earned her RN certification from the University of Tennessee at Martin, where she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity for Women.
She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing from the University of Memphis and Doctorate of Nursing Science from the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences. For the past 20 years, she has been an Associate Professor of Nursing at the Baptist College of Health Sciences, where she taught Community Health.
Debbie was predeceased by her father, Theo S. Sweeney, her mother, Helen C. Sweeney, and her brother, Joseph S. Sweeney. She is survived by her son, John Clarke Sweeney; sister and brother-in-law, Carolyn and Michael Fisher, and nephew, Michael P. Sweeney, all of Memphis; her niece, Laura S. McClusky, Nashville; her former sister-in-law, Rebecca B. Sweeney, Murfreesboro; family friend, Ronnie Garner, Albuquerque, NM; other family members, and a host of dear friends.
Debbie began her nursing career as an ER nurse and soon joined the crew of the first emergency helicopter team in the city. She was past President of the Tennessee Nurse’s Association and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She started the first Parish Nursing program in Memphis at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where she was a member, and helped found programs at other churches in town. She also made several trips to Haiti to help those in need. She was a past Board President of the Exchange Club of Memphis.
Debbie was an avid reader, enjoyed extensive travel, and was a staunch supporter of the Save the Greensward campaign in Overton Park, along with numerous other charities and causes.
A Celebration of Life will be held in her memory on Saturday, July 7, at 10 a.m., at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Interment will follow immediately in the church columbarium, followed by a visitation in the church’s Trezevant Hall. The family asks that attendees wear vibrant colors to honor Debbie’s outgoing personality.
Also, the family would like to thank the staff of Baptist Memorial Hospital Memphis ICU 4, especially Tonya, Ellie, Christina, Gretchen, and Louise, for their outstanding care during her illness.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish may donate in Debbie’s name to the Deborah Sweeney Nursing Scholarship at the Baptist College of Health Sciences, the Exchange Club of Memphis, the Overton Park Conservancy, Merge Memphis Homeless Shelter for Women, Choices, or the charity of his/her choice.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on July 6, 2018