By Dan Wing, Andrew Kramer

MONTGOMERY TWP., N.J. (CBS) – The President and CEO of Camden-based Cooper Health System and his wife were killed Sunday morning when a fire ripped through their home in Somerset County, New Jersey.

The blaze broke out before 6:30 a.m. as neighbors reported hearing sirens and seeing smoke coming from the home of 72-year-old John Sheridan Jr. and his wife, 69-year-old Joyce, in Montgomery Township.

Emergency personnel reportedly tried to revive the couple, but John Sheridan was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was pronounced dead at an area hospital a short time later.

The cause of the fire at their Meadow Run drive home is under investigation, and neighbors never reported seeing flames.

Sheridan joined Cooper in 2005, after working for nearly 40 years in politics, law and healthcare.

In a written statement released by members of the board of trustees at Cooper, they call Sheridan “a true gentleman and outstanding leader.”

“The tragic death of John and Joyce is incredibly shocking and saddening,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd.  “They will both be profoundly missed by the entire Camden community.  I have personal 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.”

Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. issued the following statement on behalf of the Camden County Freeholder Board…

“The Freeholder Board is saddened to learn about the tragic passing of John and Joyce Sheridan last night. He was a leader for the largest employer in Camden County and he was a tireless advocate for Camden City. John was larger than life and served our community with a grace and dignity that could not be matched. He was a man of integrity and intelligence who cared deeply about the community. The Freeholder Board sends our deepest condolences to the Sheridan family on this tragic loss of John and Joyce.”

Authorities say an official cause of death for the couple is yet to be determined.

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