A new scholarship fund created in the honor and name of a legendary Atlantic County Sheriff Gormley awarded $3,000 in scholarships to six Atlantic County residents to help them pursue higher education on Wednesday.
The Sheriff Gormley Scholarship Award honors the late Gerald Gormley, who served as Atlantic County Sheriff for more than 20 years starting in the 1940s. It was created by the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Foundation to not only honor Gormley’s service but to annually help emplyees and their children with scholarships to pursue higher education.
“This is another example of something I created as Atlantic County Sheriff to invest in my employees and their families, which is obviously something I believe strongly in,” said Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler. “To be able to assist those who work in my office, as well as their families, in the pursuit of higher education is something I am very proud of.”
The scholarships were awarded at a private, nonpartisan luncheon in the courtyard of the Atlantic County Courts Complex in Mays Landing on Sept. 9. It was attended by and featured leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties, including former State Senator William Gormley, County Executive Dennis Levinson, State Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, various Atlantic County Freeholders, Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City CEO Stephanie Koch, Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Foundation Chairman and Retired Atlantic City Police Department Deputy Chief William Mazur and many others.
Senator William Gormley, son of Sheriff Gerald Gormley spoke at the ceremony, noting how his family teamed up with the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Foundation to create a scholarship program he knows his father would be proud of.
“It is a great honor to see my father Sheriff Gormley’s legacy being continued through Sheriff Eric Scheffler,” said Gormley, a longtime Republican. “Like myself, Sheriff Scheffler is not bound by the lines of political parties. Sheriff Scheffler is taking the Sheriff’s office to the next level. To Sheriff Scheffler, the job is not just about punishing and incarcerating people, but about establishing programs to help individuals avoid situations that lead them to commit crimes.”
Levinson, another Republican, spoke at the ceremony, acknowledging the longtime family connection between the Levinson and Gormley families. Levinson noted that during Sheriff Gormley’s tenure as Sheriff, Hap Farley may have been the most powerful politician in South Jersey and possibly the state, but Sheriff Gormley was “without a doubt the most popular.”
After the ceremony, many of the attendees and scholarship winners went inside the Courts Complex to see the historical timeline of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office created by Scheffler and his team.
“I thought it was important to create the historical timeline because I truly believe you need to understand where you come from to not only build pride and integrity but to focus on where we are going in the future,” Scheffler said. “The Sheriff’s Office has an incredible, rich history going back to 1837 filled with interesting people.”
One member of the sheriff’s office, Officer Adam Erskine, of Mays Landing, received a $500 scholarship to pursue his master’s degree. The other five scholarships were awarded to children of officers and civilians who work in the sheriff’s office, including Jessica D. Amos, of Galloway Township, Reganne Engstler, of Maryland, Douglas J. Cericola, Jr., of Egg Harbor Township, Erin T. Foster, of Mays Landing, and Bailey Holcombe, of Galloway Township.
“It was an incredible day,” Scheffler said. “When we left the event, we already raised $3,500 for next year, which was already more than what we awarded in our first year. Our goal is to build on this every year and to go as high as we can with special events and fundraisers. It’s a great way to honor those who work in the Sheriff’s office, their families and the legacy of Gerald Gormley and the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office.”