UCR Remembers Longtime Arts Benefactor Jack Sweeney

Sweeney and his wife, Marilyn, were dedicated supporters of UCR's arts programs

Jack and Marilyn Sweeney

Longtime arts benefactor Jack Allen Sweeney, for whom UCR’s Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery is named, passed away peacefully at his home in Beverly Hills on Feb. 3. He was 87.

Sweeney was the founder, chairman, and CEO of First Regional Bank in Century City. He served as a trustee of the UCR Foundation from 1989 through 2007.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox called Sweeney a quiet, behind-the-scenes force, whose business advice and philanthropy made a lasting and profound impact at the University of California, Riverside.

“The legacy created by the Sweeneys at UCR through their support of CE-CERT, the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Granite Mountains Reserve, the UCR Alumni & Visitors Center, the California Museum of Photography, Sweeney Arts Day and the Sweeney Art Gallery continues to benefit UCR students, faculty, researchers, and the community, and we are eternally grateful for Jack’s vision and investment,” he said.

Sweeney and his wife, Marilyn, who preceded him in death in 2013, were dedicated supporters of UCR’s arts programs. As a couple, the Sweeneys supported the California Museum of Photography (CMP) for nearly three decades and initiated the transformation of the University Gallery to the Sweeney Gallery.

They were instrumental in bringing the entire collection of 6,700 negatives of famed photographer Ansel Adams to CMP from the Fiat Lux commission, a commission created by the University of California to mark the university’s centennial anniversary. The Sweeneys generously supported the renovation project of the California Museum of Photography.

Sheila Bergman, executive director of UCR ARTSblock, reflected, “ARTSblock will forever honor Jack and Marilyn Sweeney’s memory. Their commitment to the arts has benefited UCR and the broader community through the Sweeney Art Gallery, exhibitions, and ARTSblock collections. Thanks to their inspiring generosity, the Sweeney Art Gallery’s collections have continued to grow over the decades.”

Sweeney was born Jan. 28, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He moved to Glendale, California with his family when he was 16. After graduating from Glendale High School in 1949, he served in Japan and Korea from 1950 to 1952, where he was highly decorated. He matriculated at Glendale College, after which he decided to become a banker. He worked at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Los Angeles and later joined Union Bank in Beverly Hills.

He invested in real estate and went on to develop apartment complexes, condominiums, and shopping centers. In 1979, he founded the Great American Bank in Century City, which later became First Regional Bank. He served as First Regional’s principal shareholder, chairman, and CEO. An active philanthropist, Sweeney and his wife Marilyn formed the Sweeney Foundation in 1993. The foundation has since supported music, education, the arts and other charitable causes in Southern California. The Sweeneys loved classical music and opera, and also supported the KUSC Radio Station, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, L.A. Opera and other fine arts institutions in Los Angeles.

Sweeney is survived by his three children: Cynthia Trice, Patricia Sweeney, and Steven Sweeney; and his three grandchildren, Nicholas and Jaclyn Sweeney and Brandon Trice, to whom he was a devoted father and grandfather. Sweeney was laid to rest at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego with military honors.

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