By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., Lt. DeLany Fawkes served from 1966-1972 as a naval officer, attaining the rank of Navy lieutenant.
After completion of naval air training, he served as a naval flight officer in Jacksonville, Fla., in the aerial photography squadron, then as air transportation coordinating officer at the Military Aircraft Command terminal in Yokota, Japan, and finally as assistant deck officer on the aircraft carrier USS Hancock.
The Hancock was home based in Alameda, Calif., and deployed to participate in the Vietnam War.
After his military career, Fawkes served as chief financial officer for 18 years for two hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington area, and in 2002, he was recruited as a CFO to Liberal’s Southwest Medical Center.
Shortly after his arrival in Southwest Kansas, Fawkes married his fiancee, Shirley, and he said he was relieved following the couple’s first arrival to the area.
“She encountered brown skies under extremely windy conditions, and I was afraid she would call the whole deal off,” he said.
The couple has become very involved in the local community, with Shirley serving in various capacities with the Baker Arts Center, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters and First Southern Baptist Church.
Meanwhile, DeLany also served in the church, hosted Bee Jay players, participated in Rotary Club and served on the boards of the United Way, Southwest Symphony and the recently created Whirlwind Career Counseling for Veterans.
After eight years at SWMC, DeLany is leaving Liberal to return to Maryland.
“Shirley returned to Baltimore in late 2008 to be with her mother,” he said. “Since then, we’ve endured an 18-month separation, and we’re thrilled to be reuniting.”
DeLany plans to spend more time with his family and enjoy many of the activities that are available in a large metropolitan area.
“Many know that I’m a huge sports fan, and I plan to attend major sporting events, as well as concerts, symphonies and the ethnic restaurants I’ve missed,” he said. “I also plan to sharpen my golf game.”
DeLany said during his time with the Liberal hospital, its financial condition has stabilized compared to the turmoil of the 1990s.
“It’s important to recognize the wisdom and commitment of key board members who served during the larger portion of my tenure, particularly Dave Harrison, Jay Hay, Ivanhoe Love, Joe Sealey and Dr. Kim Yount,” he said. “SWMC employees work hard at their jobs and are proud of our hospital.”
DeLany said this positive view of the hospital extends beyond its walls.
“With the help of involved community members led by Al Shank, Steve Cauble and Saundra Koochel, SWMC secured 83 percent of the vote in favor of our upcoming building project, which was certainly gratifying,” he said.
DeLany said some of the big changes he has seen and will remember are primarily greater stability and confidence in hospital management and governance.
“Also, we have significantly upgraded our computer system, acknowledging that much is yet to be accomplished in that important area,” he said. “A significant change yet to occur, of course, will be the new building project that will be completed in 2012.”
DeLany said, however, he is leaving Liberal with mixed emotions.
“I have come to truly appreciate the more relaxed and balanced lifestyle and slower pace of Southwest Kansas and the genuineness and sense of humor of the people here,” he said. “I believe that the people in this area, for the most part, are the happiest people I’ve ever met and are just more comfortable in the lives they lead. It’s been a great place to live and work over the past eight years.”