WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Saturday was a day for family, friends, and the community to remember Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze, who was killed in the line of duty in 2018.
He purchased a 1966 GTO hot rod back in 2000, with plans to restore the car in his retirement and as a way to bond with his daughter, Alyssa.
The Wichita GTO Club caught word of the restoration and spent the last three years restoring the car with community help.
The Wichita GTO Club presented his daughter Alyssa and wife Kathleen with the finished car on Saturday night.
They raised over $35,000 for the project. Over $6,000 was not used on the car, so it was gifted to Alyssa for her college fund.
The three years of work were described as a labor of love.
Wichita GTO Club President Tom Nance said the car was in rough shape when they started restoration.
“Have you seen this car? It was going to be a big project,” Nance said.
Shift Auto Society opened its doors to allow the restoration to take place. Shift Auto Society owner Rodney Horton said there hasn’t been a time that the car was not being worked on.
“I can’t tell you the countless times I would go through the overhead door and those guys were working here, burning midnight oil, or here in the morning,” Horton said.
The car features a blue trim stripe in honor of Deputy Kunze’s service to the community.
Rob Lord, a retired Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy, said that Kunze died doing what he was passionate about.
“He was dedicated to serving the people of Sedgwick County. For them to be able to do this for him, for Alyssa, and for Kat, it’s outstanding, there is a lot of appreciation for these guys,” Lord said.
Engraved in the truck of the car are Deputy Kunze’s daughter’s final words from his funeral: “My dad was a hero. He protected everyone.”