John W. Rooney "Mr. Delaware Park" Dead at 78

John W. Rooney, a former Delaware Park executive and enthusiastic supporter of racing in Delaware, has died. He was 78.

Rooney helped lead Delaware Park through the most prosperous times and he helped guide the track through the most trying times over his 44-year career. The native of Mahanoy City, Penn., started working at Delaware Park as the assistant treasurer for owner William DuPont Jr., president Donald P. Ross, and general manager Bryan Field in 1957, and had ascended to the position of vice president of finance upon his retirement in 2001.

In addition to serving as assistant treasurer and vice president of finance, he was also the treasurer, finance controller, vice president of racing, and a steward at various times during his career at Delaware Park. He also worked for Delaware Park executives Donald P. Ross Jr., Baird Brittingham, Edward McLean, Austin Brown, John Mooney and William Fasy. He also played an instrumental role in the transfer of track ownership to William Rickman in 1983.

The Delaware Park family will miss John greatly, but retains many memories of his life. A memorial stakes race will be in place during the 2004 meet to honor his memory. A deli stand at the track already bears his name. Rooney's Deli won the prestigious Best of Delaware award from Delaware Today magazine for the best corned beef sandwich. Rooney's sandwich offerings include "The vice president," a hot pastrami sandwich, "the comptroller," a corned beef and pastrami combo with Russian dressing and Swiss cheese, and the "John Rooney," tuna fish salad.