John Malcolm “Jody” Delzell, 90, of East Palatka, passed from this life on Friday, November 10, 2017 at his home following a brief illness. Born in Nashville, Tennessee to Raymond Delzell and Arah Acklen Delzell, Jody grew up in Franklin County, Tennessee. At age 17, he joined the Navy Air Corps where he served honorably as a combat Aircrewman during World War II. In January 1947, Jody moved to Florida and worked as a professional fishing and hunting guide. It was in September of that year he began his newspaper career as a reporter. He became a partner in the weekly newspaper, the Courier Journal in Crescent City in 1950 and in 1951 became Vice President and General Manager of the Courier and the St. Augustine Sun. In 1953, Jody became the Advertising Director for the Palatka Daily News and advanced to General Manager in 1957. In 1963, he became the owner and operator of Palatka Printing and Publishing Co. and DelCo Advertising. He was assigned the position of assistant to the publisher of the Palatka Daily News in 1969 and in 1972 was named Publisher and Editor of the Daily News by the New York Times Co. In 1980, he was named Senior Publisher for 12 New York Times newspapers across the south. He retired at the close of the year in 1988. Jody continued to be active in the newspaper industry as a columnist for the Palatka Daily News from 1988 to the present.
Jody’s professional activities over the years included serving as director of both the Florida Press Association and Florida Editorial Association and as a five-year member of Florida’s judging team that traveled to other states to judge newspaper contests. He attended the National Press Institute in Reston, VA and was a guest lecturer. He was elected President of the Florida Press Association in 1986 and brought every legal newspaper publication in the state into that organization for the first time. While serving as President, the Florida Press Association founded the Florida Press Hall of Fame, established the Florida Press Foundation and the First Amendment Foundation of which he served as a trustee.
Jody was very involved in his community and served in numerous capacities including as: Past President of the Crescent City Jaycees, Past President of the Palatka Kiwanis Club, Past President of the Putnam Society, Past President of the Palatka Seniors Golf Association, Past President of the Putnam County Cancer Society (2 years), Vice Chairman of the original County Planning Board, Vice Chairman of the Palatka Gas Authority Board of Directors and chaired the Fishing Advisory Committee. He had also been Past President of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce where he also served as a director and chaired the Advertising Committee for ten years and co-chaired the Chamber’s Industrial Contact Team.
In addition to all of his professional and community involvements, Jody was likewise instrumental in organizing the Little League Basketball Program in Putnam County and coached for ten years. He also coached Little League Baseball for five years.
Since retiring in 1988, he authored five published, successful books.
Jody’s motto was: Tennessean by birth, Floridian by choice and Putnam Countian by adoption.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Kathleen T. Delzell, 3 sisters, Faye Gordinier, Juanita Warren and Margaret Payne and 2 brothers, Dwight Delzell and Earl Delzell.
Jody is survived by his son, John Marshall Delzell of East Palatka, a granddaughter, Shelby Bellamy and husband Travis and numerous nieces and nephews.
Graveside services celebrating Jody’s life will be at 11:00 A. M. Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at Oak Hill West Cemetery with Rev. Karl N. Flagg and Father Ron Camarda officiating. The family will receive friends Tuesday from 5-7 P.M. at Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be sent the Putnam County Historical Society, P.O. Box 35, Palatka, FL 32178.
Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at Jody’s Book of Memories page at www.Johnson-Overturffunerals.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka.