Biography of Rev. R. F. Sweet, D. D.
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The old axiom which tells us that kind deeds and gentle words live forever is one which not only inspires the mind with its sublimity, but its truth is so often brought home to us, and so forcibly that it affords a solace we do not always feel. A noble life invariably begets its full measure of love and veneration, and even though myriads of kindness done and self-sacrificing efforts are lost to earth the hand-maidens of the Great Seer of Heaven have the fullest knowledge of them all.
All men who have been so graciously endowed with that most precious of all human attributes-love for his fellow-men-have been amply repaid for their self-obligation, generosity and charity; for their weakness, submissiveness and obedience to the mandates of the Deity.
This truism was abundantly exemplified during the lifetime of Reverend R. F. Sweet, and substantiated by the wealth of love which his memory impels. Instead of donning the robes and authority of a bishop an elevation twice proffered him, Mr. Sweet preferred to retain the modest position of rector, so that he could more generally and more frequently minister to humanity; unassuming to the extreme, he nevertheless accomplished in-conceivable good and lightened numerous burdens worldly and spiritual, and was con-tent to reap the harvest of brotherly love which was his, rather than hoard sordid accumulations.
Even this brief reflection of Mr. Sweet’s busy and fruitful life suffices to instruct the reader as to his gentle though manly disposition, and illustrates how little he thought of self, and to what degree he toiled for the uplifting of his brethren and the church universal.
Reverend Sweet was a native of the Bay State. When sixteen years of age he was in business with an uncle at Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Later he became a dealer in real estate, in Madison, Wisconsin, and afterwards was Assistant Comptroller of the banks in the Badger State. In 1861 his devout nature impelled him to enter Nashotah Seminary, from which he graduated three years later, with the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He was ordained by Bishop Kewper, and was assigned to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, as a deacon. After his ordination as a bishop of the Episcopal Church, he served as financial agent of Nashotah Seminary, an institution which owes an incalculable debt to his assiduous efforts and accomplishments. He traveled both throughout America and England in behalf of the Semi-nary, and after his return to his native land he was assigned to Waukegon, Illinois, thence to the Church of the Ephiphary, at Chicago, Illinois, thence to Freeport, Illinois. In 1884 be became rector of Trinity Episcopal Church at Rock Island, Illinois. At the time of his death, December 10, 1904, he had completed a service in this city of twenty years. He was a trustee of Nashotah and Western Seminaries; Deputy to the General Convention for many years, and had always been prominent in the diocese of Quincy and for years dear to the Rock Island deanery.