A community initiative to honor the memory of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney erected a memorial for Delaney at Monroe’s Chennault Park last week.
People gathered for the memorial event included Mayor Jamie Mayo, Rep. Pat Moore, District Attorney Steve Tew, event organizer Marvin Dearman as well as Carolyn Delaney (Joe’s wife) and his extended family from Haughton, Barry Rubin (Kansas City Chiefs), Johnny Robinson, and Al Miller (Delaney’s former Coach at Northwestern State University).
“This has been long over due, long overdue,” Mayo said.
Joe Alton Delaney, a native of Haughton, was a track star and two-time All-American football player at Northwestern State University.
He was a 1981 second round National Football League draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs — where he earned NFL Rookie of the Year and Pro-Bowl honors.
Delaney was known for helping others. Although he could not swim, on June 29, 1983, he did not hesitate to come to the aid of some kids screaming for help in the middle of a pond.
Delaney jumped into the water to help save the lives of three young men at Chennault Park in Monroe. Delaney and two of the young men drowned that day, one survived.
Delaney’s former coach, Miller, commended Dearman for his work on the memorial initiative.
“When the name of Joe Delaney comes to mind, what a great kid. What a great human being,” Miller said.
President Ronald Reagan recognized Delaney as a true American hero, and posthumously awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal in July of 1983. Louisiana Governor Dave Treen posthumously awarded him the Louisiana State Civilian Bravery Award, and he was also recognized with the NCAA Award of Valor. To honor Delaney’s valiant efforts, a group of Chiefs fans came together to form the Kansas City-basedDelaney37Foundation, which works with the American Red Cross to help teach young children how to swim.
Dearman was the rescue diver who retrieved the bodies from the pond in Chennault Park on that sad day in June 1983. In February of 2020, the day after watching the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Dearman said he decided to honor Delaney.
Dearman said he received more than 100 $37 checks as well as personal notes supporting the foundation.
The Chiefs won the Super Bowl in the year of the 37th anniversary of Delaney’s death. Joe Delaney wore #37 while playing for the Chiefs. Dearman set out to raise money to secure funding for a monument honoring Joe Delaney’s life and heroic efforts at Chennault Park. Mayo and the Monroe City Council agreed to donate the use of land within the city park for the project.
All excess money raised will be donated to the Delaney37Foundation.
Contributors to this project include City of Monroe, Holyfield Construction Company (Monroe), River City Ready Mix, American Crane (West Monroe), and Johnson Granite Supply (North Kansas City, MO).