Former Morristown Mayor Jay DeLaney is battling his toughest foe

Former Morristown Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr., from the Class of '72, is acknowledged at MHS 2022 graduation. Photo by Kevin Coughlin


Thursday’s three-hour virtual planning board meeting ended with a request for prayers, from one mayor for another.

“Everyone, keep Deb and Jay DeLaney in their thoughts and prayers. Jay is battling cancer,” Mayor Tim Dougherty said. “They truly love and give everything they can to Morristown.”

Former Morristown Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. is fighting esophageal cancer, said his wife, planning board member Debra Gottsleben.

Former Morristown Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. shows off essay book he wrote for his 6th grade teacher, Ann Rhines, at celebration on April 24, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Unfortunately, it’s pretty advanced,” Gottlseben said. “He’s going through treatment and having a little bit of a rough time.”

DeLaney, who turns 68 next month, served as mayor from 1998 to 2006. He is a longtime member of the Morristown Rotary and local Irish American organizations. His tumor was diagnosed in July.

“He was starting to have trouble eating. He said it just felt weird,” his wife said.

Former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. and his wife Debra Gottsleben, a planning board member, attend Rotary dedication of pavilion at Lidgerwood Park, May 22, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

There is no routine pre-screening for esophageal cancer, nothing analogous to a colonoscopy, she said. Her husband’s primary physician sent him to a specialist who detected his illness via an endoscopy.

A battler, DeLaney is maintaining a positive outlook, his wife said.

“It’s not an easy thing to deal with, an advanced cancer diagnosis. But there are advanced options, and with the right care he feels he can beat this,” said Gottsleben, who beat her own cancer scare a few years ago.

The couple celebrated their 40th anniversary earlier this month–along with their 50th class reunion. Back in 1972, they sat next to each other in Room 303 at Morristown High School.

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and former Mayor Jay Delaney confer before redevelopment meeting. Jay, an attorney, represents Leona Development LLC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, left, a Democrat, and former Mayor Jay Delaney, a Republican, confer before redevelopment meeting in 2012. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Despite fatigue, some weight loss, and two hospital stints–for an infection, and low hemoglobin–DeLaney, an attorney, has continued working, making periodic trips to his office at Lindabury McCormick in Westfield, Gottsleben said.

Fortunately, the former mayor has kept his appetite, she said. Mary Dougherty, wife of the current mayor, has established a “food train” on the Morristown Stimulus Plan Facebook group for those wishing to help the DeLaneys with meals.

The family–which includes son Andrew, a lawyer and chairman of the town GOP, and daughter Erica, who works for a sci-tech company–is grateful for the community’s support, said Gottsleben, a librarian at Morristown High.

“The public outreach has been great,” she said.

Former Mayor Jay DeLaney, right, at the 2022 Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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