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Obituary: Elizabeth Ann Sweetnam



Elizabeth Ann Sweetnam died on March 21, 2014 at the VNSNY Haven Hospice in Manhattan after a brave fight with breast cancer. Her husband and friends were at her side. She was 66 and lived in Manhattan and Shelter Island.

Elizabeth most recently worked as a video editor at “CBS News 60 Minutes Overtime.” She edited numerous news and feature stories including the Emmy-nominated “Mammoni,” a classic 60 Minutes story about the reluctance of some Italian men to leave their homes and doting mothers. It was her favorite work.

Elizabeth first worked in local news at WCBS in New York, breaking in as an editor in the early 1980s. It was at a time when women were mostly locked out of such unionized production and engineering work in the broadcast television industry. She moved to WNBC soon after, where she spent a decade before working briefly at ABC and Fox. She joined CBS News Productions in the mid-1990s. Elizabeth was proud to be a NABET shop steward while at WNBC.

Born in Vancouver, Canada on August 7, 1947, Elizabeth graduated from York University in Ontario and then took post-graduate classes at Brown University. Later, she was a founding member of the University of the New World at Valais, Switzerland.

She began her career in television as a producer for West Side Women’s Video Collective after teaching English courses in New York City high schools and The College of Staten Island. At West Side, she produced cable programming. Among her many works was a widely acclaimed documentary, “Shopping Bag Ladies,”about the life of homeless women.

Elizabeth loved the natural beauty of Shelter Island. She loved the arts and cared deeply about people and the environment we live in.

She is survived by her husband, Vincent Novak of Shelter Island, and her brother, Gerry Sweetnam, her nephews Erik and Jason of Duluth, Minnesota and many other family members and friends across the U.S. and Canada.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Donations can be made to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Haven Hospice or to the hospice of your choice.