The Passing of Brother Delaney

By Lou Bergonzi, Class of 1965

Brother Harold M. Delaney, Monsignor Farrell’s first academic principal, whose leadership chartered the course for the school’s legendary academic and disciplinary standards, died Feb. 11, 2018.

He had been living at St. Joseph’s Residence Community in New Rochelle.

In 1961 Brother Delaney was one of three members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers – known then as the Irish Christian Brothers – to comprise Farrell’s original teaching faculty when the school officially opened on Sept. 11 at the old St. Sylvester’s School in Concord. In addition to his duties as the academic head of the school, he also taught algebra that first year.

Brother Delaney quickly established himself as a no-nonsense person, one who commanded respect from students. That was not surprising since he had served with distinction in World War II during the European Theater campaign.

“He was a man’s man,” said Richard Potter, Class of 1966. “Tough, but fair.”

Howie Robson, a member of Farrell’s original class, echoed those sentiments. Although he didn’t speak about his war days often, Howie said, Brother Delaney did mesmerize the class one day as he told about going into one of the concentration camps and seeing about an 8' x 8' room that was filled about a foot deep with gold teeth taken from the murdered prisoners. He also talked about opening a railroad car and having bodies fall out of it onto him.

Brother Delaney held a bachelor’s and master’s in economics from Fordham University, as well as a master’s in administration and guidance from Seton Hall. He first entered the brothers in 1949 and made his final vows in 1957.

Before coming to Farrell, he taught at Cardinal Hayes HS in the Bronx and Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan. In 1967 he left Farrell to become headmaster at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, where he served until 1975. He was then elected provincial of the Edmund Rice Christian Brother North American Province, where he would serve for another decade before becoming director of development.

Brother Delaney returned to Farrell in 2008 to help dedicate the Hall of Fame and school timeline in the lobby. It was a visit, he said at the time, that reminded him of the promise he saw in Farrell on that first day in 1961, and then again a year later when the current building was officially opened. His speech that night was poignant, heart-felt and funny, which prompted an interesting response from Kevin O’Connor, Class of 1965, who was being inducted into the Hall of Fame that night. In the four years he had known him at Farrell, Kevin said, he never knew Brother Delaney had such a delightful sense of humor. He was too afraid of him, he said.

He then told a story that left the crowd laughing, Brother Delaney included.

It was the last day of senior year, Kevin said, and he and two other classmates were congratulating themselves of having beaten the school out of a detention since they each had one remaining for an offense he couldn’t remember. Brother Delaney, however, wasn’t ready to concede defeat, and told them they were to report early the next day – Graduation Day – to help set up the gym. If they didn’t show up, he said, he wouldn’t let them graduate.

Br. Delaney leads Farrell's first Class to Mass in 1961.

Kevin said all three of them went to Nunzio’s Pizzeria to discuss the situation. All three decided that Brother Delaney would never enforce the punishment if they didn’t show up early. All three decided they would call his bluff.

The next day, Kevin said, each of them had re-evaluated his decision. After a series of phone calls, each of them decided Brother Delaney was not a man to be challenged. Each of them showed up early the next day.

For all those who knew him, respected him, loved him, Brother Harold M. Delaney was a man to whom Farrell men owe a great debt.



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