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Congressman’s Father Passes Away

June 30th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Jack Delaney, the father of 6th District Congressman John Delaney, has died.

Congressman Delaney posted this on his campaign Facebook page this afternoon:

"My father, Jack Delaney, died yesterday. Dad was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of a dockworker father and big hearted mother. He was very proud of his Irish descent and loved his parents greatly. He also took good care of his brother until his brother's passing. A celebrated high school athlete, he married my mother, Elaine, his high school sweetheart in 1957. After high school he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as an electrician where he worked until he retired. He served his country and was a proud American. In addition to me, he is survived by my mother and my sister, Diane, each was by his side constantly during the last few months and cared for him beautifully, and his eight grandchildren, who were the shining lights in his life. He died at home with my Mom by his side. They were married for nearly sixty years and loved each other.

Dad and I spent a lot of time together when I was young. One of my favorite things to do as a boy was to go to his various job sites, ride in his truck – always a pickup truck with a big tool box in the back – meet his many friends – a collection of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masons – and much to my mother's dismay, hang out with him and his friends at his favorite local bar. He and mom purchased some rental properties and there was always work for me to do with him fixing them up; work I loved. He was very handy and considered an excellent electrician and was the foreman on some of the largest projects in Northern New Jersey at the time. Later, in high school and college, I ended up working in construction with him in some form every school break I had. We would ride to work together in his pickup. As a boy he was the strongest person I knew and would marvel at him always winning arm wrestling competitions, performing feats of strength for his buddies, and never backing down to anything or anyone. And while his daily work uniform was a pair of work boots, jeans and a t-shirt in the summer and a flannel shirt in the winter he was always neat, clean shaven, and always looked very “fresh pressed.”

While he didn't express it in the same ways we do now as parents, he was warm, caring and loving. If my sister, my mom, or I were sick, he would call all day from work to see how we were, bring us home some kind of present or favorite food after work, and check on us all night long. He was protective, supportive, and totally focused on us. When I was in college at Columbia, he used to drive in to New York City (a big trip for him as he hated traffic) and pick me up every few weeks to come home for the weekend. Never late, I would look out the window of my dorm and see his pickup truck waiting on Amsterdam Avenue for the ride home. About ten years ago when I contracted the mumps from a trip to India he came down to help take care of me because he didn't want the girls exposed. I said “Dad, were you vaccinated?” He said “who cares at my age if you get sick.”

As I became an adult I saw another side of my dad – that of a proud father and loving grandfather. Because of his hard work, and with the encouragement of my mom, I received a great education, became an entrepreneur, CEO and now a member of Congress. Not once, was he anything but proud. Never, did he make one comment about me forgetting my roots – even though I'm sure I deserved that comment from time-to-time. He wasn't judgmental, he was simply happy and proud of what I did with my life and in that regard he is a great role model for me as a dad.

But his greatest joy was his eight grandchildren. To my four girls he was simply “Jack” and they took turns having the coveted title of “Jack's baby” and giving him back rubs. He even made up a song for them to sing to him – a song they sang for him for the last time as we gathered around his bed this past Father's Day. He had the exact same type of relationship with my sister's four kids and all eight grandchildren saw him and talked to him a lot across the last few months. He and my sister were very close and they spent a lot of time together in the last few years, something they each cherished. He always loved her very much.

We were blessed that he and my mom came to visit us every few months for the last twenty years. Mom and dad never missed one of the girl's birthdays, school plays, competitions, or special events. He absolutely loved spending time with them and had a special relationship with each of them. We went on a lot of great trips together and he loved spending time with us at the beach, with a glass of wine looking at the ocean. Our friends became his friends and he and my mom fit right in with our life and our friends were very nice to him. He loved April very much and was happy that I married in his old fashioned words, “such a good girl.” Knowing that he liked to do things for us April would always have a list of electrical fixes we needed at our house waiting for him. After the work was complete she would pour him a glass of wine, compliment him on the work, and find out where he wanted us to take him to dinner. He loved it.

As the years passed he took great joy from the simple things – being with his grandchildren, having a good steak or some good Italian food, seeing his friends and other family – including Jack, Val and their girls, – with my mom, telling some occasionally off-color jokes (which he always laughed hard at) and wearing whatever free "swag" I would give him from one of my companies (he most loved the CapitalSource baseball caps).

When I ran for office a few years ago and began talking to groups, telling them what I had done with my life, my business career etc., I realized people cared less about what I had done and more that I had come from blue collar roots. I remember talking to him about this one Saturday morning in the winter of 2012 when he and mom were visiting. I was scheduled to speak to a group of United Auto Workers that afternoon in Hagerstown. That morning Dad was asking me about that event and politics in general (he wasn't a big fan of politics), I said “Dad, in truth, they care more about what you did than what I did.” I think he liked that and he said “why don't you take my truck with you to the event (he and mom drove down that weekend in his pickup truck)?” I said, “Dad, why don't you come with me to the event?” So there we were again, just the two of us riding in his pickup truck. When we arrived I introduce him to a bunch of UAW retirees and they hit it off like they knew each other for years.

He was like that; people really liked him. He was a sweet man with a bright smile, twinkle in his eye, strong hand shake and an “American regular guy” quality about him that was endearing. After the event we drove home in the pickup and I remember thinking, warmly, that this was a wrinkle in time that I was lucky to have stepped back into. I drove the same truck back from New Jersey a few months ago after visiting him. I tried to visit him at least once a week since he took a turn for the worse and went into hospice. On this day a storm came in and all the flights out of Newark were cancelled but I had to get back for votes. He whispered that I should just drive his truck back, which I did and listened to his Frank Sinatra CDs the whole way home.

As I look back at my life, I realize that my Dad taught me some utterly invaluable things; he taught me to work hard, to never back down, to stand up for your friends, and most importantly to take care, protect, and love your family. In his world, that's how you judge yourself. He called it being a man.

He touched all of our lives and we will miss him dearly. Happily, he had a good life filled with love and affection. Love you, Dad.

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