Retired Investigator Lt. Gerald Goga Loses Battle With Cancer

By Linda Cicoira —  Gerald Goga quietly set the standards for all county law enforcement and later oversaw the investigations division at the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office.

Goga retired last year after almost 30 years of service and was only 53 years old when he lost his fight with cancer last week leaving behind his family and fellow officers who loved him.

“Hiring Gerald as a deputy in 1989 was one of the best decisions I made as sheriff,” Robert Crockett, a retired sheriff who now chairs the Accomack Board of Supervisors, said Sunday. “He was a dedicated public servant who always conducted himself in a professional manner and treated everyone with respect. He worked his way through the ranks at the sheriff’s office, being promoted to lieutenant in 2005, in charge of investigations.”

Before becoming a police officer, Goga served in the Army. He started his career in law enforcement in 1987 with the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel. Goga was married and had four children.

For retirement, “He had no plans other than dedicating his time to family,” his sister-in-law, Edean Bundick, said. “He just finished building his garage to house his ‘baby,’ (also known as) his boat. He was enjoying just being a husband, father, (and) friend.”

“I never heard Gerald speak an unkind word towards anyone, nor anyone speak an unkind word against him,” Crockett continued. “To be able to say that about anyone, especially someone in law enforcement, who made numerous arrests, speaks for itself. Gerald was a good and decent man and a man that I was proud to have known and served with.”

That was the way everyone described Goga. For a while, just before retiring, he was put in charge of making statements to the press and also handled that task in a friendly and professional way.

“I had the privilege and honor working with Gerald most of my adult life,” Capt. Todd Wessells of the sheriff’s office said in a eulogy this week. “Gerald could be described as laid back, genuine, humble, friendly, honest, patient, knowledgeable, and dedicated to serving his community. He took pride in his work. He was a great mentor. It didn’t matter if you were a correctional officer, deputy, trooper, town officer, or investigator, he would stop what he was doing and give you a hand or advice if needed. Gerald gave 110 percent all the time.”

“Serious calls would follow Gerald when we were either working our midnights and later when we were on-call supervisors,” Wessells continued. “The only thing I could figure out … was … God wanted the best law enforcement officer on the case.”

“Gerald was a professional. When he would have to talk to a victim or a victim’s family, he was so sincere and it showed that he cared about their situation … There are so many days I could talk about when Gerald faced danger whether it was dealing with an armed homicide suspect in Parksley, an armed bank robbery suspect on Jenkins Bridge, or assisting countless officers in dangerous situations,” Wessells said. “He was always there, steadfast, and never hesitating. … Deputies were still calling him asking for his opinion. … That just goes to show the confidence and respect deputies had for him. Gerald was a great police officer and my brother in blue. A true hero! To the family, thank you for sharing Gerald with all of us! God Bless!”

“Gerald put a great deal of care and pride into his work, no matter what type of case he was investigating,” said Accomack Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan. “His concern about the quality of his evidence and his presentation of the evidence in court did not vary from a DUI to a homicide. He was a craftsman of law enforcement who held perfection and justice as his goals.”

“I worked with Gerald in the investigative division for 10 of the 15 years I was employed at the sheriff’s office,” Billy Joe Tarr, another retired officer and a member of the board of supervisors, said Sunday. For three years, Goga was his immediate supervisor. “Gerald was an excellent boss, and forensic investigator, never requiring us to do anything he would not have done or had already done himself,” Tarr said. “He worked closely with us on the major cases; the rapes, robberies, and murders, taking on specific tasks needed to help us process the case. Gerald always had our backs and was compassionate to our needs.”

“There was no foolishness in Gerald, he was committed to his work, not getting involved with things within the department that did not affect the investigative division,” Tarr added. “By his hard work and dedication to his job, he gained the respect of all who had dealings with him whether professionally or personally … Although I had not spoken nor seen Gerald since he had retired, I will still look for him when I visit the sheriff’s office. I considered Gerald a good friend and brother in blue.”

Deputy Gary Callaway worked with Goga for 24 years and admired his work ethic. “He was no-nonsense when it came to his job,” Callaway said. “No matter what the case was that he was assigned, he did it to the very best of his ability, leaving no stone unturned. You could count on him for anything. He was that dedicated to his job. As a friend and colleague, I know that I will truly miss Gerald. I could go on because you just couldn’t say enough good about him.”

Shane Childress, the chief deputy, described Goga simply. He was “soft-spoken, dedicated, (and a) class act all way around.”

Chuck McPherson left the sheriff’s office to work with the Chincoteague Police Department last summer. “Gerald was my supervisor when I was promoted to investigator,” McPherson said. “He is what made me the investigator that I am today.” He described Goga as a “true leader. I cannot say enough good things about this man. Anyone who has worked with him/beside (him) will tell you the same thing. That sheriff’s office would not be as good as it is if it were not for him.”

“I worked with him for many years and knew him as a wonderful person and a fine deputy sheriff,” said Don Amadeo, another deputy, also with the sheriff’s office. “His service to the department, particularly as Lieutenant of Investigations, was second to none. Gerald was just an all-around, genuinely good person and we will all miss him.”

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