CRANFORD — The investigation into the death of Cranford High School teacher Joe Dugandzic continued Tuesday as the loss was felt at the building where he left an indelible mark.

Dugandzic's body was found in the Rahway River on Saturday. The incident is being investigated by the Union County Police Department.

Cranford Public School Interim Superintendent Marilyn Birnbaum said Dugandzic, who had taught in the district for 17 years, "was certainly a greatly beloved teacher at the high school."

Not only teaching in the town, but also living there, Birnbaum said he was very involved in a variety of activities in addition to teaching English, including directing the yearbook.

"We're really mourning this as a school, and as a community," she said.

Counselors were available at the school on Sunday and Monday and Birnbaum said they would continue to be provided to help students and teachers cope with the loss.

"We're working to make sure everybody is OK."

While Birnbaum said she had never met Dugandzic, she had "certainly heard of him," adding that "anybody that does yearbook is very involved.

Following his death, a Gofundme page was created to help pay for the college fund of Dugandzic's children, Kerry and Richie. In just 20 hours the fund had surpassed its goal of $5,000, and was past the $6,000 mark with people remembering the teacher who called his room at the school "Dugandzicland, a celestial oasis of learning."

He is also remembered on the page as being a "mentor to many, from those he coached in youth sports, to his students, and to his friends and family." His daughter Kerry quoted him on the page as saying, "If you can dream it, you can do it. Attitude is the mother of success."

Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or

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