By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Love bows out as port commissioner


John Love

Port of Whitman County Commissioner John Love has announced his retirement after 24 years on the board.

He is a retired/retained Navy Reserve Rear Admiral Flag Officer.


"If something comes up and they need me, I will be underway," Love said.

He enlisted in 1950, beginning in the Navy Air Reserve while a student at Whitworth College in Spokane. After graduating in economics/business administration, Love was commissioned as an amphibious officer in Coronado, Calif., boarding underwater demolition destroyer-escort ships at the end of the Korean War and on to Indochina.


"We were there before it became a war," Love said.

He returned to Garfield in 1957 to work at the J.E. Love company, a manufacturer of agriculture and re-forestation nursery equipment. The company was started by John's father, James Edward Love.

John, originally from the Port Townsend area, was adopted from an orphanage at five years old during the Depression.

"The people that operated the orphanages were very kind," Love said. "It was very clean, very well-run."

He was born in Port Townsend?

"I'm just gonna say it's a good question," Love said.

Port business

He was elected to the port in 1996.

"Being in the Navy, I was familiar with ports and it just seemed like a productive and interesting organization," Love said.

He had also served on the Garfield school board.

Port projects during Love's time include developing the Port Industrial Park and Port of Whitman Business Air Center, building telecommunications infrastructure around the county and improving Boyer Park & Marina.

How long has the Port run Boyer Park?

"Many moons," said Love.

His last day with the Port is July 15. With five years remaining on a six-year term, a new commissioner will be appointed.

Love made the announcement at the June 18 Port meeting that he would retire for personal reasons.

"I just want to let you know I don't think that I could have done this – taken this position – without your mentorship and your leadership here," said Port Commissioner Kristine Meyer. "My tenure has certainly been short but it's been that much more gratifying and enjoyable for your leadership."

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"You are going to be terribly missed, John," said Tom Kammerzell, the third port commissioner.


Love first took office after winning a three-way election to replace Robert Heglar, an 18-year member.

Love also represented the Port of Whitman in the broader port and maritime industry.

He has held seats on ports and waterways boards across the state, serving as secretary, vice president and president of the Washington Public Ports Association, also serving on the board of Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.

In 2018, Love was awarded the Distinguished Service Member Award from Northwest Waterways.

"John is a real statesman," said Joe Poire, Port of Whitman executive director. "The Port rode on his leadership at the state and federal level, as he was always asked to be on boards and committees. John's leadership provided the Port a conduit to everybody. He opened doors that this Port had not experienced before. He brought the Port to a whole new level, and all the while he did it with great humility."

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A history of his accomplishments will be presented to Love and his family at the Port's regular July 2 meeting.

Kammerzell and Meyer will appoint a new commissioner from District 1 within 90 days. Once appointed, the new commissioner will serve the remainder of Love's term, to be up for re-election in 2025.

District 1 extends from Pullman to Rosalia and over to Lamont.

"I want to express my appreciation to the citizens of Whitman County who have given me the opportunity to serve as a commissioner," Love said. "It's been both an honor and a privilege."


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