Dana Sweeney

August 8, 1959 ~ September 13, 2020 (age 61)


FITCHBURG - Dana Lee Sweeney, 61, of Madison, Wisconsin passed away peacefully on Sunday, September 13, 2020 in her home, surrounded by the love of her family.

She was born on August 8th, 1959 in Wakefield, Michigan, the daughter of Donald and Arloa Barnabo. Dana grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She was a proud cheerleader at Janesville Parker High School, where her father was the Head Football Coach. Dana, along with her brothers Dante and Tom, and sister Lana, split their childhood years between being the coach’s kids under the Friday Night Lights in Janesville, to weekends up at the family cabin in Manitowish Waters, WI.

On September 5, 1987, Dana married the love of her life, Dan Sweeney. From the start they were a fun couple. Their social life was filled with get togethers with their friends and families.

Together they have three children Willow, Tyler, and Shane. Dana was a hands-on mother who was always involved with her children’s education and activities. She drove each to school and home every day, volunteered her time and energy at the schools, made her chocolate cookies for the teams and cheered loudly at each sporting event or performance. She was their number one fan, and they knew it.

In 1994, Dan and Dana bought the cabin next to her parents in Manitowish Waters. Dana loved the Northwoods and spent much of each summer there. It was her happy place. She enjoyed peaceful alone time, a chance to work on her hobbies, and relished being close to her parents. Nothing beat the countless full-family weeks at the Sweeney’s Seven Pines cabin.

Dana exceeded all expectations as a Grandma. Haley, Cooper, Dane and Barrett lucked out. She spoiled them, and they loved it. Grandma Dana made sure each grandkid knew that they were special and that they were loved. Grandchildren made the love in the Sweeney family grow exponentially.

Dana’s life's work was the home and life she created for her family. She worked tirelessly to make everything special. Her super power was creating space for those she loved to celebrate and be together. She was a fantastic social host and cook and she loved holidays, but to her family it was more than just that. Every tradition was always seen as a sign of the deep love she had for each of them. Years of these traditions have created a foundation for her family. That foundation continues to draw them back to the home she created for them all to be together.

Dana loved Broadway musicals, quilting and knitting, music, golf and travel. She was committed to volunteering. Over the years she devoted time to Meals on Wheels, Nakoma G.C. Jr. golf, Our Lady Queen of Peace School, and Edgewood High School. Dana was very proud of her involvement with the Madison Women Junior Club. 

In the last few years Dan and Dana wintered in Naples, Florida. From the summers at the cabin in Manitowish Waters to winters in Florida, Dana loved the sun. Florida brought a respite from the Wisconsin cold and special time with her husband, family, and friends. She loved it there.

Dana was known for her beautiful style and impeccable taste. From her home to her fashion, she had the skill to make things visually beautiful. We now know that what we saw on the outside was actually her inner beauty shining onto everything she ever touched.

She loved big, and she was so very loved. Her life was a Job Well Done.

Dana Lee Sweeney is survived by her husband Dan, daughter Willow (Brian) Flaherty, son Tyler (Melissa) Sweeney, son Shane (Anna) Sweeney, father Donald Barnabo, brother Tom (Susan) Barnabo, sister Lana Barnabo-Knaack, granddaughter Haley Sweeney, grandsons Cooper Flaherty, Barrett Flaherty, and Dane Sweeney, beloved sister and brother-in laws, treasured nieces and nephews, loving cousins, and dear friends.

Dana was preceded in death by her mother Arloa, mother-in-law Marian, and brother Dante.

Dana handled illness with bravery, humility, and grace. The family wishes to thank those that helped Dana through her cancer diagnosis, treatments, and end-of-life care. Thank you to Dr. Justine Bruce from University of Wisconsin and Agrace Hospice Staff for their unwavering professionalism and compassion.

Words will never be enough to show the family’s gratitude to Lana Barnabo-Knaack, Mary Beth Arnold, and Lynne Roark for their constant unconditional love and care. Dana’s children are profoundly proud of their Father who took the very best care of their Mom, every second of every day.

A private burial for immediate family will be held on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

Memorials may be made in the name of “Dana Lee Sweeney” to The UW Carbone Cancer Center or Agrace Hospice.

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