Riordan at 70: Tom Sweeney ’76

1970s: The Pathfinders 

Michael Gray ’20, Opinion Editor

Tom Sweeney

Tom Sweeney, Class of ‘76, has served for 43 years as the legendary doorman of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, located in Union Square. A familiar face to many local San Franciscans, Sweeney with his iconic seven- piece red Beefeater Coat has come to represent the cheerfulness and hospitality of the city as a whole.

In the length of his time as doorman, Sweeney has met celebrities, greeted prime ministers, given directions to prominent city locations hundreds of thousands of times, and received awards from city leaders, most notably in 1982 when he was awarded–along Joe Montana and Dwight Clark–for his tackling of two suitcase thieves.

At Riordan, Sweeney participated in a myriad of activities, including the basketball, soccer, and cheer teams, as well as Student Government. After his 1976 graduation, Sweeney worked as a ticket vendor in the Oakland Coliseum before starting his more than four-decade long and star- studded career at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

How did Riordan contribute to his success? Sweeney stated, “It really got me ready to work with people, it really helped me to work at a high profile job for 43 years.”

Eventually, Sweeney became the face of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, with his colorful image on luggage tags, room keys, and a plethora of gift shop items. With his retirement quickly approaching, Sweeney will continue to develop his resume in other aspects of his life, including his passion for long distance running. Sweeney has run more than 30 marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and plans on expanding that impressive count after his retirement.

Sweeney has kept his eye on Riordan, donating to the school’s new athletic facilities and attending alumni events.

Sweeney said, “Riordan’s really coming around a lot. All the boarding students have brought a lot to the school, and the new field and gym are going to attract a lot of good students and good athletes.”