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Marion Jane (Ridley) Sweeney
October 26, 1935 ~ October 21, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old
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Marion Jane Ridley Sweeney, a true beacon of strength and inspiration, passed away on the night of October 21, 2023, days before her 88th birthday. She was born on October 26, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, to her parents, devoted mother Grace and dedicated father, Albert Curtis Ridley. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan and Zanesville, Ohio, alongside her beloved brothers, Albert and Carl. Born during the midst of the Great Depression, Marion’s early years were marked by the stark inequalities and segregation of her time; however, she chose to rise above the challenges, emerging as a remarkable leader and a tireless advocate for social change. Marion lived a long, rich, and fulfilling life, leaving an indelible mark on the world through her numerous accomplishments and contributions.
Marion’s journey of lifelong learning and excellence led her to become a proud graduate of The Ohio State University. Her dedication to civil rights and social justice was unwavering and a focal point of her life’s work. She was a trailblazer in founding of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission Regional Office of Dayton and becoming its first African-American woman President. Marion went on to serve on the board of the YWCA, and was a founding member of the West Dayton Neighbors for Education.
She was an inspiring Charter Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA), Tau Lambda Omega Chapter and served as the chapter’s first Treasurer. She also served as the 25th Chapter President of Beta Eta Omega Chapter of AKA, Dayton.
She was a lifelong and influential member of the Links Incorporated, having served as Central Area Director from 1987 to 1991 and as Dayton Chapter President. Through her service, she helped to establish several new chapters and directed many volunteer and social programs all in order to make a significant impact within the African-American community. Her tireless efforts and dedication were recognized when she was honored as one of the Ten Top Women of Dayton, sponsored by the Dayton Daily News. Marion’s commitment to education was evident when she obtained a grant from the City of Dayton to provide scholarships for students to attend Sinclair Community College. Her influence reached far and wide, earning her The Women of Influence Award in recognition of her exceptional contributions.
Marion was not only a leader in her community, yet was also a successful co-business owner and operator of JoJa’s Dari Center, along with her husband. Her entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to her family and her community were second to none.
On September 17, 1958, Marion married the love of her life, James Sweeney, with whom she shared a long and loving marriage. Their union blessed them with two wonderful sons, John and James. Marion’s legacy also lives on through her three cherished granddaughters, Jasmine, Jayna, and Kayla.
Marion Jane Ridley Sweeney’s impact on the world will continue to inspire generations to come. Her unwavering commitment to justice, education, and community service has left an indelible mark on the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing her. Marion’s memory will forever be a shining example of overcoming what appear to be insurmountable obstacles along with what a profound difference one person can make in the world while fighting those very challenges. May she rest in peace, knowing that her legacy lives on in the hearts of those who loved her and in the lives she touched, especially her dear family and friends.
A private service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Margret’s Episcopal Church at 5301 Free Pike, Dayton OH 45426.