Roxborough couple honored for secretly maintaining fallen police officer's memorial

Antionette Lee
February 23, 2020 - 10:54 am
John and Joan Renshaw were recognized at the Fraternal Order of Police Awards after it was discovered they secretly maintained the memorial of Officer Joseph Friel for ten years.

Antionette Lee/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Roxborough couple thought they were just doing a good deed, secretly maintaining the memorial of a fallen Philadelphia police officer. They almost got away with it until a retired detective found them out.

As Ken Renshaw told it, the story was simple.

"I was walking around the neighborhood and noticed that the memorial was looking a little shabby," he said, "so I just started taking care of it, cutting the grass, cleaning it up."

That memorial was for fallen Philadelphia Police Officer Joseph Friel, who was killed in the line of duty in 1994 when his car was hit by a drunk driver.

Eventually, his wife Joan started helping out.

"We plant flowers every season. We change it for Christmas, spring, summer, fall," she added, "so we try to keep it looking nice for the officer. He was a young guy, only on the force for six months when he died."

They did that in secret for ten years, but a retired detective living nearby caught on to what they were doing. "He found out who we were and contacted the FOP," said John Renshaw, "and they tracked us down from there."

The coulple was honored Thursday at the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Awards. But the Renshaws said they never expected to be recognized. They were just trying to do the right thing.