LAKEWOOD — A professional bowler turned 25-year-year veteran police officer died suddenly Sunday after a brief illness.

A graduate of Ocean County Academy Class 70, Capt. Joseph Goertz joined the force in 1998 and worked his way up through the department. He started as a patrol officer and later was a member of the department's Special Response Team. Goertz was promoted in 2016 to captain as a patrol commander.

"Today we lost an amazing father, husband, mentor, friend, boss and leader," the department wrote on its Facebook page.

"Joe was a proud family man, nurturing husband and an amazing father. His family always came first and he made sure that it was known his best accomplishments in life were being lucky enough to marry his beautiful wife Elena and being a father to four great children."

The department did not disclose details about Goertz's illness.

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Lakewood police Capt. Joseph Goertz (Lakewood police)

'Everybody liked him'

Lakewood Committeeman Albert Akerman remembered Goertz as a "good guy" who was community-minded.

"He was very encouraging, into his work, and the people under him, over him — everybody — liked him," Ackerman told New Jersey 101.5. "He was at events and he interacted with the kids. He was well-rounded, down-to-earth person."

Goertz once told Lakewood police Chief Greg Meyer that his role as a police officer was not all that defined him.

"'Just call me Joe,' a dedicated family man that loved his wife, kids and proud to serve the Lakewood police community," Meyer said.

Funeral arrangements were not announced as of Monday morning.

Lakewood police HQ honors Lakewood police Capt. Joseph Goertz (The Lakewood Scoop)

Life before law enforcement

Bowling ran in the Goertz family as both he and his father were accomplished bowlers.

Goertz bowled before joining Lakewood police with several trophies on display at the Lakewood Historical Museum. He was the NJSIAA boys bowling champion in 1979.

Donna, a long-time employee at Ocean Lanes in Lakewood, told New Jersey 101.5 that Goertz spent time in Las Vegas as a pro bowler.

He still bowled in the Joe Goertz League named after his father. The Joe Goertz Memorial Scholarship Tournament was held Oct. 13 at Ocean Lanes.

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