The President and CEO of the Cooper University Health System and his wife were killed in a house fire Sunday morning.
Officials with Cooper Health announced the deaths of John Sheridan Jr. and his wife Joyce Sheridan. Firefighters were called to their home on 49 Meadow Run Drive in the Skillman section of Montgomery Township, New Jersey shortly before 6:15 a.m. Sunday. The fire was contained to an upstairs bedroom where firefighters found the couple unresponsive.
Sheridan Jr., 72, was pronounced dead at the scene. Joyce Sheridan, 69, was taken to the hospital where she died a short time later. Autopsies will be performed to determine what caused their deaths. Officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
Sheridan Jr. was named the Senior Executive Vice President of Cooper in July 2005. He then became Chief Administrative Officer in March of 2007 and President of Cooper University Hospital in September 2007. He was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cooper Health System in February 2008.
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Sheridan Jr. is credited with helping to transform the entire health care system. A list of his accomplishments include the construction and expansion of the Roberts Pavilion as well as the creation of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, the first new medical school in South Jersey in over three decades.
"Perhaps his greatest contribution to the larger Cooper community was his commitment to helping revitalize Camden," said a spokeswoman for Cooper Health in a released statement. "There was never a day that went by when he wasn't focused on what Cooper could do to help revitalize a city that he loved and that should be the defining hallmark of his tenure at Cooper."
Camden Mayor Dana Redd called their deaths "shocking and saddening" in a released statement.
"They will both be profoundly missed by the entire Camden community," Redd wrote. "I have personally known John Sheridan since 2001. We worked closely as Cooper enhanced their campus and during the early planning stages of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. John’s leadership and friendship is a loss for so many including myself. On behalf of the City of Camden and our residents, I send our deepest condolence. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with his colleagues and family.
Gov. Chris Christie said he was "shocked and deeply saddened'' by the Sheridans' deaths. "John was an outstanding public servant, a leader in the healthcare industry and a true New Jersey treasure,'' Christie said in a statement. "Joyce was an outstanding teacher, wife and mother.''
Senator Donald Nordcross also shared his condolences.
"John represented the very best of South Jersey," Norcross wrote in a released statement. "As the CEO of Cooper Hospital, he was a fierce advocate for health care and the City of Camden. Just last week, he was discussing his vision to improve the quality of life for city residents. We all have been dealt a serious blow.”
Prior to his time at Cooper, Sheridan was a senior partner and Co-Chairman of the law firm Riker, Danzig, Riker. He also served as General Counsel to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and was on the Board of Trustees of the Carrier Clinic, a not-for-profit psychiatric hospital in Belle Mead, New Jersey.
He graduated St. Peter’s College and received his law degree from Rutgers Law School. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970. .
“It is hard to overstate how great a loss John’s death is to his family, friends, co-workers and Cooper,” said George E. Norcross III, the chairman of the Board of Trustees at Cooper Health. “He was a friend, a mentor and a role model. There is no one else who has had as big an impact on me as John did except my father. I will miss him very much.”