Death of Northampton Realtor Dennis Delap stuns friends, colleagues
NORTHAMPTON — Co-workers and friends expressed shock and sadness at the news that well-known real estate agent Dennis Delap died Tuesday after a brief illness at age 65.
Delap, of Conway, had owned and operated Delap Real Estate in Northampton since 2005, after previously working for Goggins Real Estate in Florence for nearly 20 years.
“He became my best friend. We talked every day,” said Ellen Bartos, Delap’s personal assistant for 12 years. “I can honestly say he was the nicest, sweetest, kindest, and most generous human being I’ve ever met.”
Bartos said Delap had complained of fatigue after returning from a vacation in France less than two weeks ago but thought he was suffering from jet lag.
Soon after, Bartos said, he began having shortness of breath and, after consulting a doctor, was admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for treatment Oct. 7
She said the original diagnosis was a type of bacterial pneumonia, but after a course of antibiotics failed to alleviate the symptoms, it was determined the cause was viral and it would have to run its course. Delap succumbed to the illness Tuesday, according to Bartos.
“It’s a tremendous loss to everyone who knew him and worked with him,” she said. “I’ll miss his laugh, and how he really cared deeply for people.”
She said Delap’s demeanor showed that one could be successful in business and still be an honest and caring person.
Bartos said she also admired Delap’s artistic side and said he had become an accomplished oil painter, especially skilled at portraiture.
Some of Delap’s work hangs in the office, along with work by his wife, Paula Olson, who survives him.
“He didn’t have as much time to paint as he would have liked,” Bartos said.
Nancy Merritt, who has worked with Delap since he opened his office, said his agency was unlike any other she worked for. She said Delap made it a point to include the agents in the office in the decision-making processes to help steer the course of the business.
“It wasn’t like we worked for Dennis,” she said. “It was like Dennis was working with us.”
“Dennis never made us feel we were less important than he,” Merritt said. “It was an incredible work environment.”
Julie Held, a Realtor in Delap’s office for six years, said she joined the agency specifically for the opportunity to work with him.
“He was grace personified,” Held said. “Everything he did, he did really well.”
Held said Delap had plans in place to keep the company going forward should anything happen to him, and the office has galvanized with a “show must go on” attitude.
“That’s what he would have wanted,” Held said.
Steve Jasinski, a friend and agent at Delap Real Estate, said one remarkable thing about Delap was how people felt after having a conversation with him.
“When the conversation was over, you felt better about yourself,” Jasinski said. “He had a gift.”
Jasinski said he and Delap started in real estate about the same time and had worked together for many years before he joined the agency about 2 1∕2 years ago.
“We were hoping to do this until deep into our old age,” Jasinski said.
Pat Goggins, owner of Goggins Real Estate, said his entire office was shocked and saddened by the news.
“Dennis worked for me for almost 20 years and has been one of the area’s very best Realtors for 25 years,” Goggins said via email.
“He has helped many happy buyers and sellers over that time and in the process has raised the bar of agent performance,” added Goggins.
One of those happy buyers is Connie Sprong of Williamsburg, who was a client of Delap’s.
“He started out as a Realtor, he ended up as a friend,” Sprong said.
“He was a very special person. We will all be less for having lost such a wonderful person in our community,” Sprong said.
“His loss leaves a tremendous void,” Bartos said. “There’s no one like Dennis.”
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.