Sayreville officer remembered as ‘dedicated’ and ‘caring’
Dedicated. Talkative. Caring. Those are the words friends used to describe Matt Kurtz, the Sayreville Police Department detective who took his own life Monday, leaving behind a wife and two children.
As members of the Sayreville community — where Kurtz spent most of life — struggled to come to grips with the 34-year-old's death, hundreds of people donated to a GoFundMe page that was set up to raise funds to help his widow and children. Dennis Wolfe, a longtime friend of Kurtz's, said he and a few other close friends decided to start the page after learning about the officer's death.
"We all decided to put the page together when we first met up after hearing the news," Wolfe told NJ 101.5. "We felt helpless and really wanted to try and show how much Matt really meant to us all. We also wanted to try and give the same opportunity the entire community. The response so far has been amazing."
As of Tuesday night, the page had raised more than $40,000 and has been shared more than 2,100 times on social media.
Kurtz was found dead inside his own car next to the former Amboy Multiplex theater on Route 9 in Sayreville on Monday morning. He had suffered at least one gunshot wound. Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the wound was self-inflicted. He will be laid to rest Thursday.
Wolfe who has known Kurtz for more than 25 years, said the two of them — along with three other friends — have been "best friends" since third about grade. He said Kurtz was the type of person who could always be counted on when someone needed help.
"Matt was one of the most caring people I have fever met," Wolfe said. "The one person you always called when you needed help."
Kurtz was born in New Brunswick but was a lifelong resident of Sayreville, according to his obituary. After graduating from the University of Scranton with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Kurtz chose to remain in his hometown and join the local police force.
Wolfe said his friend loved his job and spoke about his experiences often.
"He was also extremely dedicated to the force and would constantly tell stories to the point you had to tell him to shut up," Wolfe said.
In a statement Tuesday, Sayreville Police Chief John Zebrowski described Kurtz as a "cop's cop."
"He was smart, hardworking, a volunteer in our community and a leader within the PBA," the chief said.
In addition, Kurtz has also been described as a hero. According to the Home News Tribune, Kurtz was honored last year for helping to rescue an an 83-year-old man from a house fire. The newspaper’s article states that In December 2014, Kurtz and another member of the police department entered through the rear door of the burning Main Street structure to pull Sayreville resident Max Klitzke to safety.
But when he wasn't fighting crime in his hometown, Kurtz was a family man who was dedicated to his wife Jamie and kids, Matthew and Connor, Wolfe said.
"He adored his wife and kids and talked about them all the time," Wolfe said.
A wake for Kurtz will take place Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Maliszewski Memorial Home, 121 Main St., Sayreville, the obituary states. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at Saint Mary’s R.C. Church in South Amboy with burial to follow at Saint Mary’s Cemetery, South Amboy.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to Sayreville Association for Brain Injured Children 251 Jernee Mill Road, Sayreville N.J. 08872.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.