Santa Clara Magazine is published in print for alumni and friends of the University. It is updated weekly on the web.
James E. Delehanty ’44, 90 years young, passed away peacefully on Feb. 21, 2012, one day before his hero George Washington’s birthday. He was surrounded by his much beloved wife of 63 years and his loving family. Jim was born in San Francisco to Alice Armstrong and James E. Delehanty Sr. in 1921. He attended Grant Grammar School and was a proud member of Boy Scout Troop # 14. After graduation from Lowell High School at age 16, he worked for Wells Fargo Bank for two years before heading south to Santa Clara University. During his second year at Santa Clara, he joined the Navy and was sent to the Philippines as a lieutenant in the Sea Bees. At the war’s end, he completed his civil engineering degree at University of Texas in Austin. It was here that, by a stroke of Irish luck, he met Norma Stratton, former Sweetheart of the University and the life-long sweetheart of his universe. They were married in San Francisco and then moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where Jim worked as a civilian engineer at the naval base. It was here that their first child, James Burke, was born. Following their time in Cuba, Jim and Norma moved to Texas, where their children Paula and Brian ’76 were born. They then moved back to California, settling in San Mateo. In the sweet California sunshine, the family grew by four more: Kevin, Molly, Megan MBA ’90 and Dan. Though he was trained as a civil engineer and ran his own roof decking business in Texas, Jim began new careers in California, working as a manufacturer’s representative and a property developer. He maintained a true family business, where his sons Brian and Burke, as well as his daughter-in-law Mary Lee ’77, continue to work. Besides his love of wife and family, Jim was sustained by his voracious appetite for the written word, particularly his interest in Irish history and the novelist, Vladimir Nabokov. He had a keen interest in jazz music, especially savoring the works of Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman. Into his eighties his passion for the game of tennis kept him fit, competitive and immensely satisfied. He also enjoyed a weekly game of dominoes with his buddies and loved warm sweaters, sunshine and French-fried potatoes. Norma and Jim charted many miles traveling throughout the world. Jim was a member and one-time president of both the Burlingame Chamber of Commerce and the Burlingame Rotary Club. He served on the Mill’s Hospital board for 17 years and during this time was instrumental in the merging of Mills and Peninsula Hospitals. He was also a member of the Peninsula Tennis Club, the Burlingame Country Club, the Pacific Union Club, the Hillsborough Racquet Club and the Green Valley Country Club. Jim believed that nothing surpassed the importance of family. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, father in law, and friend whose witty, kind and honorable presence will never be forgotten by those who knew him. He is survived by his wife Norma, his sister, Helen Bofinger and her daughter, Peggy, seven children, four daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law, seventeen grandchildren and four great grandchildren. We will always remember the twinkle in his eye, the way he made us laugh and the dignity, honesty and devotion that were the hallmarks of his well-lived life. The family deeply appreciates all the comforting words, thoughts, prayers, meals, flowers and other kindnesses that have been sent. They give great comfort and ease the pain from losing Jim. We would like to express a special thanks to Kalolaine Wight, Silvia Flores and Colin Delehanty ’09 whose care for Jim in the last several weeks brought us all amazing comfort and peace.