James F. Delaney Jr.
July 6, 1927 – June 10, 2005
Principal in Kennedale ISD for 40 Years
Jim Delaney was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to James Delaney Sr. and Genevieve Delaney. Delaney Sr. was a fire marshal and Genevieve worked for Bell Telephone while also serving as a homemaker, raising Jim and his three sisters.
Jim served as an alter boy for his church, and at one point considered becoming a priest. He attended La Salle High School, Niagara University, and Allen Junior College, before enrolling at Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth. At Texas Wesleyan he obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in 1956. His school career was interrupted by service to country. Jim served in World War II (1946) and the Korean War (1952).
Basketball was central to his life. He played basketball at each school he attended. In 1965, his first year in Kennedale ISD as a junior high school principal and a high school girls’ basketball coach, his team earned the first ever girls’ district basketball title. In 1995 he was selected All/Big State Conference First Team from Texas Wesleyan College. He was also the recipient of the Raymond A. Nolen Memorial Award in Philadelphia and was inducted into the Philadelphia Basketball Association. As further testament to his commitment to basketball, he conducted practice most every morning before school on the campus of Delaney Elementary. Many students in grades 1 – 6 were inspired by his involvement with them through basketball.
In 1975 Mr. Delaney, along with friends Bob Leach and Jim Bridges, bought the Forest Hill swimming pool. They operated the facility with a firm hand while providing many children with fond memories of swimming lessons, moonlight swims, the scary tall diving board, the cool slide, and food from the shack.
Mr. Delaney was proud of his memory. He maintained “organization sheets” that he reviewed daily. Those sheets provided him with educational information on each and every student within the school. The data on those sheets gave him an indication of students’ capabilities and how they were progressing. He was committed to having each student provided the opportunity to reach his or her highest potential. To that end one would often find him spontaneously quizzing students in the halls, lunchroom, or classroom with, “How do you spell vacuum?” “How do you spell rendezvous?” or “What is the capital of (some state)?” Often he would present a math problem for a student to mentally solve in response to his questions. Students expected the intellectual challenge and loved being able to respond appropriately, living up to his expectations.
Mr. Delaney served as the principal of James A. Arthur and Kennedale Primary from 1965 to 1986. During his last 18 years of service to KISD, he served as the principal of the district’s primary school. His faculty respected his ability to provide vision for educating children. He supported his teachers, knowing their education background by heart and their special capabilities in teaching. Mr. Delaney had an amazing ability to motivate teachers to want to do their best with whatever their assignment was.
Mr. Delaney focused on respect and excellence. This was evident in the achievements of the school – an exemplary rating from 1995 through 2004. In his gruff way, he was there to support and encourage every teacher and student to be the best they could be.
On April 28, 1995, Kennedale Primary School became Delaney Primary School in an unprecedented event - naming a school after a principal still employed in that position. Later, when fourth grade was added to the school, the name was changed to Delaney Elementary.
Jim Delaney was one of a kind. No one really knew the whole Jim Delaney. With his style of dress, the taps on his shoe heels shuffling down the hall, his loud and deep voice, and his stature he made quite an impression. In contrast, he was a very private, gruff, generous, intelligent, talented, religious, patriotic, one-of-a-kind friend, mentor, educator and coach to many.
He was a faithful member of Saint Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth. He was an avid Larry Bird fan. He loved to play tennis at TCU. He believed in keeping in shape – mentally and physically. He was committed to being brutally honest. And he was committed to teaching young students (grades 1-6) the art of basketball.
Mr. Delaney was one of a kind. One of his favorite songs was “I did it my way” by Frank Sinatra – very apropos.