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HTDC History - Larry Delany, a Legend among Democrats

Long Islander

Larry Delany, a Legend among Democrats, dies
Long Islander, Thursday, January 28, 1982, An obituary by JUDY B. SCHWAGER – Staff Writer

Lawrence J. Delaney, a legend among Democrats in the Town of Huntington, died Monday, January 18, in Palestine, Texas, after a long illness. He was 67 years old.

A staunch Democrat, who served both as town and county Democratic leader, Mr. Delaney, is credited with “literally creating the two-party system in Huntington.”

“He was the catalyst,” said Frank Grimes, chairman of the Huntington Town Democratic Committee. “For 25 years, he did more than any single person to build the Democratic Party here.”

Famous for ringing doorbells, Mr. Delaney is remembered for his determination to build a viable Democratic Party in Huntington, long a Republican stronghold, and for his willingness to personally recruit committee members and candidates as well as financial support for the party.

“He was one of my dearest friends in the world,” said Robert Flynn, former Huntington town supervisor. “He came up and rang my doorbell, and by the time he left I was a candidate.”

Flynn recalled that in the early ‘50s, Mr. Delaney became famous for his admonition that the “last one out of Snyder’s Bar has to run for supervisor.”

Former Congressman Jerome Ambro credits Mr. Delaney with being the “man who got us all interested in this business.” “He was a man who loved people, especially the downtrodden; a man who hated corruption, especially local corruption,” Ambro said.

Those who worked with him agree that Mr. Delaney had the ability to bring differing groups together. Eunice Titcomb, vice-chairwoman of the Huntington Democratic Committee, said he was able to attract innovative people to government and persuade people to run for office. “His enormous contribution was making it possible to really have an election here,” she said.

Although he “sounded and looked like a stereotype politician,” his gruff exterior covered “a sharp mind and sharper wit,” Ambro said. Mr. Delaney was an avid reader with an enormous number of interests.

He loved politics, but according to Huntington Supervisor Kenneth C. Butterfield, one of Mr. Delaney’s unique qualities was that he never intruded into government.

Democratic town leader from 1969 to 1978 and Suffolk County Democratic leader from 1963 to 1967, Mr. Delaney was “ahead of his time” in championing civil rights legislation, housing programs and women’s rights. As early as 1960, he appointed a woman postmaster, June Sklar, to the township position.

Mr. Grimes remembers the Democratic leader picketing a supermarket in 1975, in behalf of the United Farmworkers. While people called, “Viva Chavez and viva Delaney.”

Always good for a quote, Mr. Delaney was a consummate politician, who worked tirelessly for the party until ill health forced him to resign. He moved from Northport to Texas in 1980.

“Larry Delaney had a very strong sense of compassion for the deprived, the distressed, and the disadvantaged,” said Ambro. Frank Grimes added, “Good politics make possible good government and Larry believed that, and was a successful practitioner of that belief. He was an unforgettable person.”

Mr. Delaney, who was born Sept. 2, 1914, was the circulation manager for Time Inc. for more than 30 years, when he resigned to devote more time to politics. Mr. Delaney served in the U.S. Army in World War II. His wife, Katherine W. Delaney, died three years ago.

He is survived by three sons, Paul of Palestine, Michael of Los Angeles, and Lawrence S. of Washington D.C.; a daughter, Marita, of Seattle; and four grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Jan. 22 at the St. Philip Neri R.C. Church in Northport. Interment followed in Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.

(If you've visited the office at 168 Main Street, you probably have seen this large drawing.)