I first learned late last night from television news that John P. Sheridan, Jr. and his wife, Joyce had perished in a house fire. I say without exaggeration that I am still in a state of shock over this.
There are those people in life who possess goodness but never achieve the greatness to which they aspire. Then, there are those individuals who achieve greatness but whose character evidences a lack of goodness.
John Sheridan was a rarity – a person who achieved greatness in life but never lost that quality of supreme goodness. Four virtues summarize the essence of John Sheridan: Family, ethics, competency, and loyalty.
Many people in the world of government and politics maintain a false façade of family commitment. John Sheridan, however, was the ultimate exemplar of dedication to family. His devotion to and pride in his wife, Joyce, his children, and his grandchildren was unquestionable. Family was the top priority in the life of John Sheridan.
Unimpeachable ethics was a hallmark of the life of John Sheridan. There was never even a scintilla of evidence of conduct in the career of John Sheridan, both in the public and private sectors, that gave rise to any allegations of unethical practice.
The word “competency” would have been an appropriate middle name for John Sheridan. In my lifetime, I have met and observed numerous leaders at the highest levels of the public and private sectors. I never met an individual who exceeded John Sheridan in terms of competency. In every governmental position John held, most notably as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation in the administration of former Governor Tom Kean, he performed flawlessly and left behind a legacy of magnificent achievement. As an attorney, John was truly a “lawyer’s lawyer”, proving that one could be both ethical and highly successful in the practice of law. As a healthcare executive, John Sheridan’s accomplishments were, in a word, monumental.
John’s loyalty to friends was most admirable. He returned every phone call to friends, regardless of their social or economic status, and always provided sound advice and encouragement, regardless of the situation confronting the caller. I know – I was one of those individuals blessed with the friendship of John Sheridan.
The passing of John Sheridan is a loss to the State of New Jersey of one of its greatest citizens. For the Sheridan family, this is a horrific tragedy. I can only hope and pray that they can be consoled, even in some very limited degree, by the pride in having two great parents and grandparents in John and Joyce Sheridan, whose good names will always be a blessing for generations to come in the Sheridan family. May John and Joyce Sheridan rest in peace.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.