DANVERS — A line in a college recommendation letter from St. John's Prep foretold the role Danvers native Michael Delaney now plays as New Hampshire's newest attorney general.
"Mike is conscientious and most deeply committed to principles," read the Oct. 17, 1986, letter penned by Bill Mackinson, who taught Delaney in a freshman religious-studies class.
Delaney also used to manage the freshman basketball team Mackinson coached.
A week ago Monday, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch swore in Delaney as chief legal and law enforcement officer.
Lynch's former legal counsel once served as chief of the homicide unit in the state's attorney general's office. Delaney prosecuted the high-profile murders of Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop in January 2001, for which the FBI commended him.
It was that line about his conscientiousness in Delaney's recommendation that struck Mackinson today.
"This is Michael," Mackinson said.
Back then at St. John's Prep, Delaney was involved with community service projects and was active with campus ministry.
Delaney graduated with the Class of 1987 and then graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1991. Delaney received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1994.
"My education at St. John's Prep really instilled in me a deep appreciation in public service," said Delaney, 40, who lives in Manchester, N.H., with his wife, Caroline, and three children, Margaret, 10, Kathleen, 7 and William, 5.
He grew up on Danvers' Irving Street in a large Irish-Catholic family; his parents still live in the same house today. He was the youngest of five, including three older brothers and a sister. He went to St. Mary of the Annunciation School through eighth grade.
Today, Danvers is also where his brother Frank and his wife, Kelly, own the bakery Cakes for Occasions on Maple Street in the Square.
"He did always want to be a lawyer," Muriel Delaney said. "It was a very exciting day up there seeing him sworn in" last week.
"I had an interest in the law from an early stage in life," said Michael Delaney, whose first job was as a Salem News paperboy.
Delaney's love of the law and the courts came from his father, Arthur, who once served as the chief probation officer in Haverhill District Court. His brothers Thomas of Danvers and William of Beverly are former assistant district attorneys. His sister, Kathleen Duggan, works as the associate director in academic support services at Boston College.
"I had the opportunity to witness firsthand at an early stage in my life the criminal justice system," Michael Delaney said.
His route to Granite State attorney general was not a straight one, as he worked from 1994 to 1998 for the Manchester, N.H., law firm Wiggin & Nourie with a focus on business litigation dealing in white-collar crime.
"I always knew in my heart I wanted to pursue a career in the public sector," he said.
In 1999, he became an assistant attorney general; later, he became chief of the homicide unit, managing cases for the entire state. He rose to deputy attorney general in 2004 before becoming Lynch's legal counsel in 2006.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.