Morristown flags to fly at half-mast for former mayor

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Flags in Morristown will fly at half-staff until former Mayor Jay DeLaney’s funeral next week, Mayor Tim Dougherty said on Monday.

Former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr., at Mayor Tim Dougherty’s 2017 jazz festival announcement. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It’s a sad day. He was a personal friend and a great ambassador for Morristown,” Dougherty said after attending a meeting of the Morris County Commissioners, who also remembered DeLaney.

DeLaney, mayor from 1998 to 2006, died Sunday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 68.

“It’s really a shock,” said DeLaney’s wife, Debra Gottsleben.

Although her husband’s health had been deteriorating since his July diagnosis of stage four esophageal cancer, Gottsleben said she had not expected the end to come so swiftly.

A viewing will be held at the Doyle Funeral Home, at 106 Maple Ave. in Morristown, on Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 3 pm to 8 pm. The funeral service is scheduled for Assumption Church at 10 am on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022

Mayor Tim Dougherty, left, and former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, Aug. 19, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Mayor Tim Dougherty, left, and former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, Aug. 19, 2017. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Dougherty, a Democrat, said he learned as a councilman about openness by observing the Republican DeLaney in action as mayor.

DeLaney gave him unfettered access to town employees and invited him to events, he said. “Jay’s door was always open.”

Whenever a resident voiced disagreement at a council meeting, DeLaney handed the person his card, with an invitation to call.

“He was famous for it,” Dougherty recounted.

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 and former Mayor Jay DeLaney Jr. confer before redevelopment meeting in 2012. DeLaney, an attorney, represented Leona Development LLC. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

DeLaney deserves credit for the Highlands transit village apartments (formerly called the Highlands and now, Sofi) near the train station, and for the 40 Park condos that helped transform the downtown, Dougherty said.

He also was passionate about the Morris County St. Patrick’s Parade, and tenacious like a pit bull as a lawyer representing objectors before town boards, added Dougherty, whose wife Mary organized an online “food train” to help the DeLaney family with meals for the last few difficult weeks.

The mayor said he and DeLaney often joked about how people mistook them for each other because of their similar Irish names. He has lost a trusted resource and confidant.

“He was very plugged into what was going on at the high school. He had his finger on the pulse of a lot of things. He was someone I could talk to if I needed advice,” Dougherty said. “Jay was an all-around good guy.”

mayors salute MHS alum association
Mayors salute the Morristown High School alumni association for 125 years of service in 2010. L-R: Thomas Ficarra (then Superintendent, Morris School District); Ed Myers ’85 (Alumni Association President); Frank Druetzler (then mayor or Morris Plains); Tim Dougherty (Morristown mayor); Scott Rosenbush (then mayor of Morris Township); Jay DeLaney ’72 (former Morristown mayor and former Alumni Association president). Photo courtesy of Ed Myers.

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