Longtime Jersey Shore lifeguards know that working on the beach is like an addiction. It’s in their blood, it’s a part of who they are and they are lured back each summer by the sights and sounds of the beach and ocean. People like Bob Tormollan, Hank Handchen, Bill Ditchkus and Pete Busch simply can’t imagine what a summer would be like without working as a lifeguard even if their days sitting on a stand have past by.  Now they use their experience and knowledge to teach the skills that are needed to watch the water and the swimmers who often have no idea just how dangerous the Atlantic Ocean can be.

Joe Gomulka outside the temporary Beach Patrol headquarters (Townsquare Media NJ)

Joe Gomulka will report to lifeguard headquarters on the Stockton Avenue Beach in Seaside Park today for the final time.  After 27 years as the captain of the borough’s Beach Patrol he is retiring so he can devote more time to his job as the Athletic Director at Monsignor Donovan High School while also re-discovering what summer is really like at the shore.

The 56-year old Gomulka took over as captain in Seaside Park in 1987 after spending 10 years learning to be a guard under the direction of the legendary Boyd Family in nearby Seaside Heights.  In the 27 years he has run the beach in the Park he has been known for his constant need to be busy all the time and worrying that something wasn’t done correctly.

Waves from Superstorm Sandy pound the old Beach Patrol headquarters (Townsquare Media NJ)

Those who have worked with him and for him will tell you that he leads by example and his work ethic is second to none.

A Central Regional and Montclair State University graduate, “Joe G” is on his third career as he begins his second year as the AD at Donovan.  He retired after 32 years from the Middletown School District to take the job with the Griffins and of course there has always been summer at the beach.  Actually it was more like spring, summer and even fall for the Toms River resident who would always look for ways to make things better for the guards and the swimmers they protect.

In truth he would have retired before this summer if not for “Sandy” which helped destroy Beach Patrol headquarters, equipment and more.  It was not the way he wanted to leave his post and now that things are almost back to normal Gomulka can step away and leave the day-to-day chores to good friend Mike Veracierta who began his tenure in Seaside Park some 28 years ago and was the right choice to take over as Captain.

Joe Gomulka in front of the old Beach Patrol headquarters before it was torn down (Townsquare Media NJ)

While Gomulka walks away you can be sure he’ll maintain strong ties to the sand that’s been a second home as his daughter Brittany is a Park guard and there is that special addiction to the beach.  After all,old lifeguards never die; they just put their whistles and torps away.