Radio Host Delilah Opens Up About The Death Of Two Of Her Sons And How She Got Through It

She's faced unimaginable tragedy.

 Opens Up About The Death Of Two Of Her Sons And How She Got Through It Instagram

Delilah is the host of a nationally syndicated nightly song request and dedication radio program in the U.S. with about eight million listeners. Her show starts at 7 PM and ends at midnight local time weeknights.

On the show, she takes calls from listeners and provides encouragement, support and even takes song dedication requests. 

Delilah is based in the Pacific Northwest and airs her show from her home studio, which is convenient for the mother of 14 (!) who's been married four times. In fact, she frequently jokes about her multiple divorces on her program. 


Now, she's opening up about the death of two of her sons and the personal hell both tragedies put her through. 

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But how did Delilah's sons die? Let's take a look at everything we know about the radio host's tragic loss — and how she's coping.


1. Who is Delilah?

Delilah Rene, known simply as Delilah, was born in North Bend, Oregon in 1960. She grew up in Reedsport, Oregon and won a speech contest in middle school, a contest in which the judges were owners of the local AM radio station.

Delilah began working at that station while she was still in school. She created advertising spots for the station and was eventually given her own time slot on air before and after school. She graduated from high school in 1978 and went on to work at stations in Oregon and Seattle. She created the format for her current syndicated show at KSLY in 1984.

2. She has 14 kids.

Three of her children are biological; the rest are adopted. They range in age from middle school to their late 30s. They are: Lonika, Isaiah, Emmanuelle, Tanginique, Trey Jerome, Shaylah, Angel, Bridget, Zachariah, Thomas Karlton, Blessing, Delilah Jr., and Sammy. The name of her 14th child is unknown.

Four of her kids are from the foster care system in Washington State, two are orphans from Ghana, and three are Liberian refugees who were living in Ghana before Deliliah adopted them.


3. Delilah been married four times.

Her first marriage was at 21 to George Harris, who also worked in radio. Delilah's parents didn't approve of their interracial marriage and disowned her. At 24, she gave birth to therr first child, Isaiah. Shortly after his birth, George and Delilah divorced

Her second marriage was to a man she dated for six months and was married to for six weeks before she had the marriage annulled. 

Delilah was also married to a man named Douglas Ortega, who was eight years younger than her. They met through their church. By 1996, they were married and their daughter Shayla had been born.

Delilah still wanted more kids, so Doug and Delilah began adopting. While they were in the process of adoption, she found out she was pregnant. Over the course of a year, she went from having two biological kids to having six kids total. In 2011, Delilah and Ortega divorced. 


Delilah, who's an Evangelical Christian, married her longtime partner Paul Warner in October 2012.

4. How did Deliliah's sons die? Her first son Zack died by suicide.

Delilah's son Zack is one of her three biological children. He was in a car accident in December 2016 that traumatized him. Following the accident, he had a bad breakup and an illness that caused him to fall behind in school. He fell into a period of depression after that.

Delilah sent her son to doctors, a counselor and a support group, but tragically, it wasn't enough. Zach died by suicide on December 3, 2017. Delilah found a "nine-page letter tucked under the pillow of his bed."

In an interview after his death, she talked about her son, saying, "He was my wild child; 13 broken bones, umpteen trips to the hospital with appendicitis, tonsillitis, a fractured skull. He was wild but so so, so sweet."



A post shared by Delilah (@radiodelilah) on Dec 7, 2019 at 1:46pm PST

5. How did Delilah's son Sammy die?

Sammy Young Dzolali Rene, one of Delilah's adopted children, passed away in March 2012 after a two-week stay in the hospital. He was 16 years old and died from sickle cell anemia.

Sammy had sicke cell his whole life and it went mostly untreated because his relatives in Ghana believed his pain was caused by demons. When Delilah fist met Sammy, he was suffering from horrible neglect in an orphanage. She adopted him and brought him to the U.S. just nine months before his death. 


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6. She dealt with rage.

After Zack's death, Delilah said, “I went into a rage when I started doing the research on the medicine I told you that he was given."

At the time of his death, Zack was taking medication and being treated for depression. She didn't specify which medication it was but she believes it caused him to take his own life. 



A post shared by Delilah (@radiodelilah) on Nov 23, 2019 at 12:11pm PST

7. Country singer-songwriter Rory Feek helped Delilah deal with her loss.

Delilah was spiraling deeper and deeper into her rage when she met country songwriter Rory Feek, who lost his wife Joey to cancer. Delilah and Feek share the same Evangelical Christian faith.


According to Delilah, Feek called her and said, "...'Your boys are much more a part of your future than they are of your past.' I responded, ‘How can you say that? I don’t get to go to their weddings, I don’t get to see their babies, I don’t get to be a grandma, I don’t get to see them graduate, both of them,’ And he said, ‘Because you know where they are, and you know you’ll be with them in the future.'”

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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.