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Editorial: The real estate, and human, legacy of Dennis Delap

A framed photograph of Founder Dennis Delap is displayed, Wednesday, at the Delap Real Estate office in Northampton. 


A framed photograph of Founder Dennis Delap is displayed, Wednesday, at the Delap Real Estate office in Northampton. SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

Dennis Delap is gone but not forgotten. And that’s the way it should be. Delap, 65, died in mid-October from a viral infection after returning from a vacation in France with his wife, Paula Olson.

As we reported in our business section Monday, Delap, a longtime real estate agent, left his business to his staff as equal partners. We were struck by Delap’s generosity toward his co-workers and the outpouring of love for this man by the people who worked with him.

Linger on that phrase: “worked with him.” Not “worked for him.” With. One such word can make such a difference in a workplace.

Delap’s business has offices in Northampton and Amherst. The company’s nearly dozen workers learned a day or two after his death that Delap had left the entire business to them. Still grieving, the staff needed time to absorb the impact of this gesture.

People who worked with Delap described him, after his death, as a selflessness person with a collaborative spirit. He was open, encouraging, confident and spirited.

To quote one staff member, “Dennis was a philosopher. He had a demeanor and philosophy about life and how to treat people — to not expect anything from them, but to give to them instead.”

The staff is carrying on his legacy. They are committed to making a go of the business. Pictures of him adorn the office walls. Reproductions of oil paintings done by him are also on display.

Thanks to his legacy, Dennis Delap still walks among those he respected and trusted to carry on the work of the company that still bears his name.

Legacy Comments1

I learned some time back of Dennis' death. Dennis and I first worked at Landry Lyons and White, which opened in Northampton in 1986. That agency struggled because its Realtor recruits were not local. Dennis left after four months or so and joined Goggins and Whalen, which had deep local roots. Several months later he encouraged me to come over, as well. After Pat Goggins split and started Goggins Real Estate (Whalen was exclusively insurance), we both migrated over. Pat searched the City for a new location and involved his staff in the selection of a new office. We settled on King Street. Dennis and I shared office space. I was amazed at his method and ease in communicating with clients. Being a few feet away across a desk partition, I would listen to him and marvel at the way he seemed to "wear his clients like a glove", as I came to think of his marvelous natural way of interfacing with them. He was destined to become the best agent Northampton ever knew, most probably. Straightforward communication is the key to business success and Dennis had it in spades. I admired his natural, common touch, always giving prominence to the other person's interests, making them aware of his concern for them without making them selfaware for his slant in the conversation. I lost contact with Dennis (we were never close-close, just friends at work) but thought of him often as a good, kind man. ~ On a side note, we became aware about a year after first meeting that we both attended Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, the state he came from. He was a member of the Class of 1967, two years behind me. We did not know each other at college. He was an art major, I believe. ~ On another side note, it amazes me how many successful real estate agents start out in the workworld in "common", service-related professions, such as waiters, secretaries and so on. Dennis was a waiter in a Main Street restaurant. He told me he had been encouraged to go into real estate... a "people profession" where you need to get along, be trustworthy and use one's natural ability to communicate to one's best advantage. Dennis certainly used his unique talents well. ~ On another sidenote, at some point Pat Goggins must have thought of leaving the business, perhaps to follow politics; I do not recall. I worked up a buyout proposal (which went nowhere) but it involved ownership by the group of agents on Pat's staff. Dennis liked that idea. It evidentally fit his personality because he seemed to gravitate in that direction when he formed his agency after my departure.

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