Dennis Grove DeLay, known to many as “Chief”, “Coach”, and “Mr. D”, passed away at Morris County Hospital on June 26, 2020 in Council Grove, Kansas at the age of 79.
Dennis is survived by his wife, Ellen Elizabeth (Sheedy) DeLay; children, Kerry Lee DeLay McCane [Neal], Lee’s Summit, MO and Douglas Brian DeLay [Sarah], Platte City, MO; siblings Ronald Lynn DeLay, Humboldt, KS and Vicki Sue (DeLay) Long [Loren], Topeka, KS; and grandchildren Paige Nichole McCane Dent [Patrick], Rhett Calvin DeLay, Caden Lane DeLay, and Drew Elizabeth DeLay. He is preceded in death by his mother and father.
Dennis was born on May 3, 1941 in Herington, KS to Ila B Grove DeLay and Calvin W. DeLay. He graduated from Yates Center High School in 1959, where he earned 11 varsity letters, all-conference honors, and all-state recognition in football, basketball, and track. He was a member of the National Honor Society and was Student Body President his Senior Year.
Dennis graduated from Baker University with a BS Degree in Biology and Education in 1963, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and lettered 4 years in football and track. He was inducted into the Baker University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. He began his education career in 1963 as a Biology teacher at Gardner (KS) High School, where he also coached football, basketball, and track. Dennis was the District 366 Master Teacher for the 1967-68 school year.
Dennis and Ellen were high school sweethearts and were married in Yates Center, KS on July 24, 1965, and lived in Gardner until moving to Council Grove, KS in 1968.
After completing a MS Degree in School Administration at Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University), Dennis became Principal at Council Grove High School in June 1968, making him the youngest school administrator in Kansas. He served as “Chief” of the CGHS Braves for 30 years, influencing the lives of multiple generations of students from Council Grove and surrounding communities. He was recognized with the USD 417 Teachers Association Friend of Education Award in 2000.
Dennis and Ellen began their family shortly after moving to Council Grove. Kerry Lee was born January 31, 1970 and Doug followed on December 24, 1974.
Dennis was always involved in athletics, even beyond coaching and following the many activities his kids. He was a registered KSHSAA and AAU track starter for 52 years and was named KSHSAA Track Starter of the Year in 2008. He was a certified AAU and USA Swimming starter for 42 years and a KSHSAA football official for 13 years. He served on the KSHSAA Board of Directors from 1995 to 1999. Dennis enjoyed playing golf and for many years was a member of the Council Grove Country Club, at one point serving as President of the Association.
Hunter Safety Education was a very special part of Dennis’s life. He was a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Charter Hunter Education Instructor, certifying more than a thousand hunters over his 47 years as an instructor. He was named KDWP Hunter Education Instructor of the Year in 2015. He was awarded the International Hunter Education Instructors Association – USA Champion of Hunter Education Award in 2015. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and was a charter member of both the Flint Hills Sportsmans Club and the Council Grove Ducks Unlimited chapter.
Dennis stayed active following retirement by serving as Director of the City of Council Grove Recreation Commission from 1998 to 2004, Director of the Council Grove Life Center from 2005 to 2010, Instructor of the Humana Silver Sneakers fitness program from 2006 through 2020, and worked part-time as a desk clerk at The Cottage House. His community involvement included serving on the 8th Judicial District of Kansas Community Corrections Advisory Board, the City of Council Grove Lake Advisory Committee, the Council Grove Community Center Board of Directors, the Board of the Flint Hills Rebuilders, and member and committee member of the Council Grove – Dunlap United Methodist Church.
In 2015, Dennis and Ellen were recognized by the Council Grove / Morris County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism as Citizens of the Year. They were honored to be acknowledged for their dedication and commitment to the community where they raised their family and spent most of their lives. Kerry stood in for Dennis at the banquet, however, as Dennis was occupied at his annual Western Kansas pheasant hunting trip.
While not a graduate of Kansas State University, Dennis was a big Wildcats fan. He and Ellen were basketball season ticket holders for several years and football season ticket holders for 50 years, rarely missing a home game in Manhattan and attending nearly every Wildcat bowl game.
The memorial service for Dennis will be held outdoors at Lull Meadows, 4 miles North of Council Grove on Highway 177, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020. The family asks that those attending bring lawn chairs, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing. Brenda Davids, Council Grove – Dunlap United Methodist Church, will officiate the ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Sawyer Funeral Home for contribution to the Morris County Hunter Education Program or the Dennis DeLay Baker University Scholarship Fund.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Morris County Hospital for their amazing care and attention.
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