The Village of Wellington recognized retiring Parks & Recreation Director Bruce DeLaney with a proclamation last week, honoring him for his 24 years of service to the community.
“This is the last time you will see Mr. DeLaney officially,” Village Manager Paul Schofield told the Wellington Village Council. “Bruce has been a phenomenal parks and recreation director. He has come through some difficult times and is exemplary in every way. Our Parks & Recreation Department is truly amazing, and that is a reflection of its leader.”
Schofield thanked DeLaney directly for his service.
“I cannot tell you how much you mean to me, and I am truly, truly sad to lose you,” he said, setting the tone for the comments from the council.
Mayor Anne Gerwig leveled high praise on DeLaney.
“We’re going to have some parting shots for you, but really, they’re going to be shots of gratitude,” she said. “One thing people always talk about with Wellington is how well recreation runs around here in the village. I realize that commitment that you’ve made, and I appreciate it, because it makes our job a lot easier.”
Gerwig added that DeLaney has touched the lives of so many Wellington residents.
“You’ve made such an impact in the community,” she said. “So many kids have grown up thankful for the experiences, and our program is the envy of so many other communities. Every time I’ve interacted with you, you were such a pleasant guy and so easy to deal with. You always got the job done, and you did it with a smile on your face.”
Vice Mayor Michael Drahos echoed Gerwig’s comments and noted that everyone he speaks to knows of DeLaney and his dedicated work with the Parks & Recreation Department.
Councilman Michael Napoleone agreed. “Everyone speaks so highly of you because you’ve done such an amazing job,” he said. “You will be missed.”
Councilman John McGovern noted that he first met DeLaney when he was a sports volunteer.
“You’re someone who loves parks and recreation, loves kids and always wanted it to be the best. You always wanted to get the positives out of sports, sportsmanship, athleticism and exercise,” said McGovern, who remarked that a lesson he learned from DeLaney is to love your job, but don’t take it too seriously. “You have left a legacy behind.”
Councilwoman Tanya Siskind said she loved DeLaney’s sense of humor. “Whenever I would see you, your humor would light up the event, whatever it was,” she said.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen worked with DeLaney as a colleague and also during her years of service on the council.
“You’re supported by a phenomenal team who work with you to make the parks department top notch,” she said. “I’m going to miss your professionalism over the years. We wish you good luck.”
All of the village officials agreed that DeLaney would be missed.
“This is where we give you a hug and talk to you about a life well-lived, which yours has been,” Schofield said. “Bruce, I wouldn’t be here without you. Wellington’s successes are truly traceable to you, and I am saddened to see you go.”
DeLaney began his service with Wellington before the community was even incorporated.
“It has been awesome, an awesome 24 years,” he told the Town-Crier this week.
DeLaney explained that he began in November 1994 when the area was still governed by the Acme Improvement District and there were very few amenities.
“Basically, we used Wellington Landings Middle School, Wellington High School and the old Boys & Girls Club,” he recalled.
DeLaney attributed the success of Wellington’s programs to the vision of leaders past and present who invested in parks and recreation. “We are very fortunate to have the facilities we have today,” he said.
DeLaney said he will be moving to Tampa with his wife, where they have a home and where his children and granddaughter live. “I’m going to see what recreational activities she’d like,” he said.
He said that he will miss his time in Wellington. “It is the friendships I will miss most,” DeLaney said. “I will miss the people.”