Sioux Falls tattoo shop owner remembered after fatal crash
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — One of the things Jody Little loved best was riding his motorcycle, so it was no surprise when he told his wife that’s what he wanted to do on a Sunday night in September.
“It was a full moon that night,” Amy Little said, sitting at a table in the Sioux Falls tattoo shop her husband started. “That’s how we danced. We didn’t go out dancing, but we did when we rode together.”
Early on the morning of Sept. 24, Amy and Jody — who was known to family and friends as J.D. — took their motorcycles out for a spin. They played a few rounds of pool before heading home on 60th Street North.
It was then that a deer darted out in front of them, causing both bikers to try to slow down. But J.D.’s handlebars caught on Amy’s, causing him to go into a “death wobble” before crashing. He died at the scene of the crash, his wife at his side, the Argus Leader reported.
“It was beautiful and horrible, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because I was there,” Amy Little said. “And I know I did everything I could even though there wasn’t anything to be done.
“At least I know I did it and I got to be with him, and he went out in the style he’d want to go out,” she said. “He wouldn’t want to be laying in a bed.”
Born in Cherokee, Iowa, J.D. has been in the tattoo business for several decades. He opened his own shop in Sioux Falls, Outlaw Tattoos and Piercings, on Benson Road in 2003.
He spent many of his formative years in foster care and at Boys Town in Nebraska before moving back to Iowa, his wife said. His first shop was in Doon, but he moved to Sioux Falls to help his adopted father, Snake, and ran his own business after Snake passed away.
“One of the things you do when someone takes you in in the tattoo world . is you don’t tattoo in that neighborhood until that person no longer (does),” Amy Little said. “It was a respectful way to do it.”
Amy met J.D. more than 20 years ago through mutual connections in the biking world. Years later, they began talking on the phone and a few weeks in, J.D. told Amy he was going to marry her. Fast forward seven years, and he made good on his promise: They wed May 12 at the Motorcycle Expo in Sioux Falls. The bride wore a white dress covered with a leather jacket.
Despite her love for her husband, Amy admits J.D. was not a perfect man. She laughed as she held up a mug shot recently featured on the Minnehaha County Most Wanted list. It is of J.D., grinning from ear to ear.
“He loved this mug shot,” Amy Little said. “He said, ‘I am so sick of seeing mug shots of people where they look all trashed out and stuff. From now on’ — because it was bound to happen (again) — ‘I’m smiling.’”
Paul Martinez, who has worked as a tattooist at Outlaw for five years, said he appreciated J.D.’s honesty about his past and present failings, which included convictions for simple assault, DUI and intentional damage to property, among other charges.
“He was one of the few men that I’ve ever met that didn’t pretend to be a saint,” Martinez said. “He acknowledged that he had demons and he worked every day to be a better man than he was the day before, rather than making excuses like the rest of the world does.”
In 2016, J.D. Little’s efforts to clear his neighborhood of debris and bring the community together were highlighted in an Argus Leader article.
“By cleaning up the neighborhood, hopefully people feel a little better about themselves,” he told a reporter at the time.
His friends and family said that his rough early years inspired him to seek better for the people around him.
“In spite of everything, J.D. was a philanthropist above and beyond anything else. He cared about people, and sometimes he had a rough way of showing it,” Martinez said. “Sometimes being as blunt as he was got him in trouble.”
J.D. did not apologize for being honest with people, Amy Little said.
“He was straight up who he was,” she said. “And he was a hardcore biker, through and through.”
Amy and the rest of J.D.’s family and friends planned to ride down to Yankton for his funeral. He will be buried next to Snake in a rather unique fashion that bears testament to the way he lived.
“He’s going in the ground ass up, tattoos showing,” Amy Little said. “He’d be proud of that.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com