By GERARD EDIC / Greenwood Commonwealth
The Holmes County native, who attended S.V. Marshall High School, was a premedical student at Mississippi Valley State University and earned a minor in music, but the confinement of being stuck in a hospital concerned him. So he opted to become a Greyhound bus driver.
He was rejected, though, after he was one minute late to a bus-driving class in Memphis.
“I was terribly angry about that,” Delaney said, adding that he had no one but himself to blame for not being punctual.
Older than 40 (he’s very protective about his age), Delaney is now a master sergeant with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, where he is interim director of the Security Compliance Division.
He investigates fraud cases as well as cases related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on a disability.
“If there’s a suspected case of fraudulent activities, I go from scratch trying to collect evidence that confirms that it is or isn’t,” he said.
Delaney still lives in Holmes County — in Cruger, where he commutes to his work in Jackson each day. Occasionally on weekends and holidays, he will work enforcement when needed.
He said that he expects to be hired as a lieutenant soon, which would allow him to transition from interim director to director of the Security Compliance Division. He took the route of becoming a patrolman out of a desire for job stability and life security rather than an innate desire to serve, however.
Before his days as a patrolman, Delaney pursued a career in performance music. He toured with a Detroit-based gospel group, the Late Robert Blair and the Fantastic Violin Heirs, from 1982 to 1984, serving as lead guitarist.
Delaney had joined the band on a whim. After hearing them perform at the Leflore County Civic Center in 1982, he approached them and was told to do an audition at the hotel where they were staying. He was immediately hired, and he first performed with the band in Columbus.
“It was exciting to see people really just excited about your performance, and you get a chance to see a lot of the world,” he said.
Yet, a sense of pragmatism kept nagging him to seek security as well as a paycheck.
“I realized that there was no Social Security that was withdrawn, there was no retirement that was withdrawn, there was no medical benefits,” he said. “So I realized that this was not the life for me, because I’m a substantial person. I believe in taking care of my own responsibilities.”
So he returned to the Delta for more stable employment.
He first worked at Staplcotn and then Balkamp, doing temp jobs at both and leaving when he found out he wouldn’t be hired permanently. After giving his two weeks’ notice at Balkamp, he applied to the Mississippi Highway Patrol in 1984.
Despite his full-time job, Delaney has still found room to perform gospel music, a passion of his. He said that if he were able to still perform with the Late Robert Blair group on the weekends while working a full-time job during the week, he would’ve done so.
In 1984, the same year he left the group, Delaney formed the Fantastic Violin Notes, a five-person band that has performed throughout the South, as well as other states such as Arizona and Michigan. Delaney is the lead guitarist, background vocalist and composer.
“Gospel has always been, as far as finesse, on a lower scale then R&B,” he said. “The average person feels that you should go to a gospel concert at no charge when that same individual will pay $50 or $60 for a blues show. That’s just the mentality of people.”
His passion for religion also shows through his evangelism — he goes anywhere he’s called — and his two radio ministry programs, which are broadcast Sunday mornings on 102.5 FM (WAGR) and 93.9 FM (WGRM).
From his job, Delaney has been able to build himself a six-bedroom dream house, outfitted with bricks and red-accented windows. He did the interior work for the house himself, even though he had no carpentry experience beforehand. The house was completed in June.
He’s single but hopes to marry someday, and he said the house has the women’s equivalent of a “man cave” for his future wife to enjoy.
Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com
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