The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 5, 2014

Sidonia (Sweeney) Balke

— Sidonia (Sweeney) Balke

   Sidonia (Sweeney) Balke, 70 of Makato, died on April 3, 2014 in hospice care.

   Friends and family will be greeted on April 12, 2014 from 2 to 5 P.M. at Arnoldt-McRaith Funeral Home & Crematory in Janesville, Minnesota.

   Sidonia was born to Roger M and Edna (Mohr) Sweeney on April 11, 1943 in Edgerton, WI.  Named after her maternal grandmother Sydonia, Sidonia was born and spent the early part of her life on a dairy farm in Edgerton, WI, where she met her late husband, David Balke.  After her high school graduation, she and David attended the University of Wisconsin - River Falls where she received her undergraduate degree in teaching.  After a few years in New Hampshire, they settled down near Pemberton, MN.

   Sidonia was a long time teacher and coach throughout her life, teaching many subjects, and most recently "English as a Second Language" (ESL).  She became very involved in the local community.  In addition to being a lifelong teacher, she volunteered time to administer community gardens, reading and working with the Mankato library, and was a lifelong supporter of public radio and television.

   Sidonia also received her graduate degree from Mankato State University and was a perpetual student, taking multiple classes long after she had her degrees. She also coordinated foreign exchange student placement through American Field Service and liked nothing better than traveling to see students in their home country that she had placed.

   Sidonia held many positions with the Girls Scouts of America as this organization mirrored her own love of the outdoors, self image and independence. An avid outdoorswomen, she enjoyed kayaking, biking and camping, including trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, backpacking through Europe and most recently traveled to Cuba and Costa Rica. In her travels, she would forgo the traditional tourist attractions in favor of meeting the locals, eating local cuisine, and staying in hostels.

   She was the face of women's liberation to all that knew her and was always fiercely independent; raising her son's in her own image. Sidonia was always willing to find time for a good cause, quick with a smile, ready for a game of bridge or a good dark beer, and never stopped learning or exploring.

   She is survived in death by her two sons: David (Jill) Balke of Adel, IA and Derek (Sarah Nagel) Balke of Milwaukee, WI, siblings: Kathleen (Dick) Nelson of Albert Lea, MN, Brian (Terry) Sweeney of Carlton, MN, Alan (Sherry) Sweeney of Edgerton, WI, John Daniel (Chris) Sweeney of Edgerton, WI, and grandchildren: Maxwell, Alexander and Brandon Balke and many nieces, nephews and friends.

She is preceded in death by her husband David M. Balke; by her parents Roger M and Edna (Mohr) Sweeney and an infant brother Patrick.

   For guestbook and further information, please visit

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