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Mourners gather to remember Sedgwick County Dep. Robert Kunze

Published: Sep. 17, 2018 at 4:29 PM CDT
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Update: Friday, Sept. 21, 2018

Family, friends and the community gathered to pay their final respects to Deputy Robert Kunze on Friday.

Services for the deputy who was killed in the line of duty last Sunday were held at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple.

Hundreds of people turned out to say their final goodbyes at the funeral.

Kunze's family spoke during the service, thanking the community for its support. His daughter even shared her appreciation for her father being a hero.

Following the funeral, school children from Benton Elementary, other first responders and community members lined the streets as Kunze's body was transported from the church to his final resting place at Resthaven Mortuary.

Sheriff Jeff Easter along with several deputies, Wichita police officers and law enforcement from around the gathered around their brother in blue as Taps was played along with his last call.

END OF WATCH: Our coverage continues on the processional route for Deputy Robert Kunze's funeral. We're live in west Wichita where family, friends and the community have gathered to pay their final respects. https://bit.ly/2xAdedH #kwch12

Posted by KWCH 12 Eyewitness News on Friday, September 21, 2018

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Update: Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018

From Friday's procession to the funeral at Central Community Church (6100 W. Maple) the community comes together to honor Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Kunze.

The sanctuary at Central Community Church is ready to host a supportive crowd that could number in the thousands.for Kunze's funeral at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday).

"The whole community is hurting and we're getting lots of calls from people on, 'how can I take care of the hurt? and what can I do for the family?' Central Community Church ]Senior Pastor Bob Beckler says. "I think one of the things is just showing up and showing your support."

Beckler says at the church open at 9 a.m., one hour prior to the start of Kunze's funeral. Lots for overflow parking will be available, as will an area specifically for emergency vehicles.

"There will probably be several different speakers. Obviously, we'll be sharing about memories and what they remember of Kunze, but our main job is, we want to honor this man and also we want to worship the God who created him," Beckler says.

In the church's sanctuary, signs are already out, designating where Kunze's family will sit. Several sections are assigned for the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and there are rows of sates set aside for dignitaries. There's also an area for honor guards.

The route for the procession, from Central Community Church to Kunze's final resting place at Resthaven Gardens of Memory, 11800 W. Highway 54 starts west on Maple to 119th Street and then proceeds south on 119th to the cemetery.

The public is encouraged to stand along the procession route to honor Kunze.

"It's not necessarily about what we say it's more about what we do. And just being there, our presence alone makes a big difference," Beckler says.

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Funeral arrangements are set for Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Kunze,

. The sheriff's office says Kunze's funeral is 10 a.m. Friday (Sept. 21) at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple, Wichita, KS 67209.

Kunze's burial will be at Resthaven Gardens of Memory, 11800 W. Highway 54, Wichita, KS 67209. A public vigil for Kunze is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday a the Sedgwick County Law-Enforcement Memorial, near Wichita City Hall at the southwest corner of Central and Main downtown.

Monday, Eyewitness News spoke with Central Community Church Senior Pastor Bob Beckler about preparations for Kunze's funeral Friday. Beckler says Friday is for the family, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and community members wanting to pay their respects and honor the fallen deputy.

Friday, Beckler says he's expecting hundreds, possibly 1,000 people to attend the memorial service for Kunze.

"I think it's not just the family that is hurting. I think all of Wichita is hurting...," he says.

Beckler says the funeral will mark the beginning of the healing process after a week of grieving.

"We're going to honor this life of a man who gave himself and gave his life and we're going to worship our God who blessed us with life," Beckler says.

He says the public will have a large role as those close to Kunze share memories and law enforcement honors its fallen service member.

"I think when Wichita as a community can come together, that makes us strong. And when we can celebrate life like this where we're reminded that he gave of the greatest sacrifice -- which was his life -- and I think the least we can do now is be there to support the family as they go through this difficult time," Beckler says.

At a time when many may be at a loss for words, Beckler says words aren't needed.

"People ask, 'What do you say to one another?' I don't worry about what I say, just my presence, just my shaking of the hand or maybe sharing a tear, that's what shows comfort and love and peace for each other," Beckler says.

Meanwhile, flags across Kansas fly at half staff in honor of Kunze. As law-enforcement across Kansas observe Kunze's end of watch, he's remembered by people across the state within and beyond the wider law-enforcement community.

People in Rose Hill remember Kunze growing up. That's where Kunze graduated high school in 1995.

Rose Hill resident Becky Rierson remembers Kunze as a child active in 4-H.

"He was one of those kids that would always help, jump in and do what needed to be done," Rierson says. "He was always very helpful, very respectful."

Those who knew Kunze in his professional life say he carried those same attributes in his service to Sedgwick County. Kevin Flowers says he knew Kunze for about 10 years. He says the deputy helped him clean up a mobile home park he manages near Goddard and helped to reduce crime in the area.

Flowers says Kunze was "more than just a cop," taking time to get to know the people he served. A few years ago, Flowers' son dressed up as Deputy Kunze for Halloween. To complete the costume, Kunze let the boy wear his official name tag.

One woman who spoke with Eyewitness News Monday says she remembers Kunze as jolly, caring and professional. She remembers an experience from a few years ago when she called for help and Kunze was the one to respond.

The woman says Kunze met with her to discuss a concern in her neighborhood. During this exchange, he handed her his business card. On that card, she says, Kunze wrote down his name and badge number, taking time to show he genuinely cared and wanted to make a difference.

Maize Police Detective Jeff Piper is among Kunze's close friends in law enforcement. He says Kunze was well known by first responders throughout his community and beyond.

"His family meant the world to to him, as most of our families do. But his profession, he had a calling," Piper says. "He in his career had seen many of his own brothers, sisters, lose their lives in the profession and like the rest of us, he carried on. He carried on their legacy and he went back to work. He did his best for the citizens of Sedgwick County, as well as anyone who was in need."

Piper says Kunze was well known for being a positive person and a hard worker.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says those wishing to send condolences can send cards to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office at 141 W. Elm Street in Wichita.

Eyewitness News is also partnering with KFDI from 6:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday morning to sign cards at the Sedgwick County Law-Enforcement Memorial.