February 6, 2023

Abundant sunshine. High 82F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph..
Clear skies. Low around 50F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: September 25, 2022 @ 4:07 am
Longtime Joplin police officer J.D. Love watches on Saturday as a small army of volunteers make repairs to his Joplin home. Love worked for the Joplin Police Department for 28 years and later served for a time as Jasper County coroner. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Five-year-old Beckham helps collect leaves as his mom, Sarah Abernathy, bags them Saturday during a Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity multi-organization effort to fix up the home of retired police officer J.D. Love in Joplin.GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Kevin King, of Abernathy Roofing and Construction, helps install new vinyl siding at the home of retired police officer J.D. Love. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Jon Abernathy, CEO of Abernathy Roofing and Construction, installs a wrap on a garage at the home of J.D. Love in Joplin. Abernathy’s company also replaced the roof on the retired police officer’s home. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Jayson Beard, of Garage Door Brokers, prepares a new garage door for installation Saturday during an effort organized by Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and contributed to by multiple groups, businesses and former of co-workers of retired Joplin police officer J.D. Love.  GLOBE | LAURIE SISK

News reporter
Longtime Joplin police officer J.D. Love watches on Saturday as a small army of volunteers make repairs to his Joplin home. Love worked for the Joplin Police Department for 28 years and later served for a time as Jasper County coroner. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Five-year-old Beckham helps collect leaves as his mom, Sarah Abernathy, bags them Saturday during a Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity multi-organization effort to fix up the home of retired police officer J.D. Love in Joplin.GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Kevin King, of Abernathy Roofing and Construction, helps install new vinyl siding at the home of retired police officer J.D. Love. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Jon Abernathy, CEO of Abernathy Roofing and Construction, installs a wrap on a garage at the home of J.D. Love in Joplin. Abernathy’s company also replaced the roof on the retired police officer’s home. GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
Jayson Beard, of Garage Door Brokers, prepares a new garage door for installation Saturday during an effort organized by Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and contributed to by multiple groups, businesses and former of co-workers of retired Joplin police officer J.D. Love.  GLOBE | LAURIE SISK
J.D. Love, a former longtime Joplin police officer and Jasper County coroner, received the gift of a lifetime when volunteers and retired police officers arrived Saturday morning to renovate his home as a thank you for all that he has done for the community.
The annual community workday was part of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity’s “A Brush With Kindness” program in which partners with Hearts and Hammers, God’s Resort, Saint Paul’s Church, Vision Carthage and area businesses to make home repairs at 21 locations throughout the region.
Joplin Habitat’s program completes light, exterior repairs for individuals and families who cannot do the work themselves due to physical or financial limitations.
Love, 85, lives with his wife, Joyce, in Joplin. The couple had contacted Habitat for assistance with their aging home. Love has lived in the Joplin community for 75 years after moving here from Ringgold, Louisiana. He graduated with a sociology degree from Missouri Southern State University.
“I was born in Louisiana, but Joplin is my home,” he said. “Joplin has been good to me over the years. I’ve made a lot of friends.”
The Joplin police veteran served on the force for 28 years, mainly on the patrol division, and then as the Jasper County coroner for several years. He also worked security for St. John’s Regional Medical Center for more than a decade.
Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Habitat, said he knew Love by reputation and his heart really went out to their housing situation.
“You have this well respected gentleman who served our community but has some serious housing needs,” he said. “His roof was in terrible condition, so I contacted (John) Abernathy, and he was able to do the roof for us. That was one big thing off the list. We looked at other areas that needed attention and thought this was an opportunity to show our appreciation for J.D. He has shared many, many times his gratitude and his appreciation. All I’m hearing from everyone who knows J.D. is that it’s the least they could do.”
Dozens of volunteers worked throughout the day Saturday to install new gutters, a section of siding, a garage door, replace the roof and complete landscaping. Several construction businesses and repair companies also teamed up for the workday.
“J.D. has a great sense of love for the community,” said John Abernathy, CEO of Abernathy Roofing and Solar, at the worksite. “It’s always good to be able to give back to the community, which is the culture of our organization. It’s good people helping good people.”
Love touched a lot of lives while he served with the Joplin Police Department, including those of his fellow officers. His former co-workers at the Joplin Police Department describe him as being compassionate and having a heart of gold.
“I haven’t seen some of these guys in years,” Love said smiling. “I was amazed. It’s bringing up some old memories.”
Kevin Sanders, of Aurora, a former Joplin patrol and K-9 officer, said he had the opportunity to work with Love during his 10 years with the department. On Saturday, Sanders joined four other former police officers at Love’s home to show their support and appreciation for the veteran officer. Sanders, who was raking and bagging leaves, said Love is a legend who’s very well respected in the community and this is their way of showing how much he’s loved.
“Jason displayed not only a look of strength, but he was very compassionate and level-headed,” said Sanders. “He was able to reason with most people, and he talked to them in a way that a lot of officers could only dream of being able to do. He’s the first guy to open his wallet to anybody and help them in any way that he can. He has always been that way. I appreciate this because I know if there’s anybody in the community who deserves this, it’s him.”
Kelley Meadows, who was weed-eating the backyard, worked with Love at the department during a majority of his time with the force from 1976 to 1996. Meadows said Love taught him how to handle and treat people with respect.
“I like J.D.,” he said. “He’s a really good guy, and we’re glad to help him. We appreciate all that he has done for us.”
Many community members who had run-ins with Love during his time in law enforcement said that he was kind, a great listener and gave people an opportunity to make things right if they made a mistake.
“I first met J.D. when he was a Joplin police officer,” James Remillard, a longtime Habitat house captain and builder, said in a written statement. “I was in high school, and we were kind of a rowdy bunch. J.D. pulled us over one time for having loud mufflers and driving too fast. We were probably disrespectful. All that changed when he started talking to us in that deep, bellowing voice of his. He told us that we were doing the wrong thing and that we knew it. But he leaned in and told us, ‘I’m not going to give you boys a ticket, but if I catch you doing it again, I will.’ He was always about giving someone a second chance. I don’t think he realized how much of an influence he was on us, but he was. We all gained deep respect for him, and he taught us good life lessons.”
Patrick Welshofer, owner of Rain Drain Seamless Gutters, said Love was a police officer when he was growing up and that he had a tremendous effect on several community members, including him.
“He was a hands-on officer and would give you the opportunity to get your act together,” he said. “He’s a fine man and treated everybody fairly. He changed a lot of lives in my generation.”
News reporter
Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction, Carthage and Webb City. She can be reached by email at kbarker@joplinglobe.com or by calling 417-627-7364.
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