The Thomas C. Sweetser, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is growing thanks to a gift from his wife, Mildred Sweetser.
The fund, which provides financial aid to students in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, was established in 2004 to honor Sweetser, who died in April of that year. A 1950 UMaine graduate, Sweetser earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy, and spent more than 30 years with the UMaine Cooperative Extension Service as a county agricultural agent, educator, and research and development coordinator.
In April, 2009, Mrs. Sweetser decided to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her husband’s death by donating $5,000 to his scholarship fund.
“Dad would be thrilled. He loved the university and felt strongly about public education,” said Sweetser’s daughter Barbara Lovley, who graduated from the University of Maine in 1998 with a master’s degree in special education and is an adjunct professor for UMaine. After participating in the Maine Literacy Partnership Program on the UMaine campus, she earned certification as a literacy coach and now teaches UMaine graduate courses to teachers at Fort Kent Elementary School.
Her father talked often about his undergraduate years at the university, according to his daughter. “The farm” was the center of all activity for the agricultural students, he would say, referring to what is now the Page Home Farm Museum. His fondest college memory was “socializing with my fellow aggie students.” A loyal alumnus and advocate for the university, he urged his former classmates to “participate in UMaine reunions and other functions. Remember our classmates and stay in touch with each other as best we can.”
Tom Sweetser thoroughly enjoyed working as an extension agent, providing practical solutions based on university research, and answering people’s questions about gardens, farming practices, and pest management, his daughter said. He received a master’s degree in sociology from North Caroline State University in 1972 and continued at UMaine as a community research and development coordinator.
Even after he retired in 1987, he and Mildred often would spend Sunday afternoons “riding around the university and seeing what was going on,” Barbara recalled. “He was always interested in keeping up to date with UMaine. He and Mom frequently attended performances at the Maine Center for the Arts and hockey games at Alfond Arena.”
Her father was delighted when her brother enrolled at UMaine, Barbara said. Thomas Sweetser III graduated in 1979 with a degree in chemical engineering and now works at Temple-Inland in Orange, Texas. Barbara’s oldest son, Shawn Lovley, earned a mechanical engineering degree from UMaine in 1998. Another son, Seth Lovley, plans to continue at UMaine in the fall, completing his program in civil engineering.
“UMaine has become something of a family tradition,” Barbara said. “Dad would like that.”
Image Description: Thomas Sweetser, Jr. at Eagle LakeThe Thomas C. Sweetser, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is growing thanks to a gift from his wife, Mildred Sweetser.