Dallas

Funeral service for former Police Chief David Kunkle held Wednesday

Kunkle died Friday at 72 after a long illness

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A funeral service was held Wednesday for David Kunkle, the man who led police in three different North Texas cities as chief in nearly 40 years of law enforcement.

Kunkle died Friday after a long illness. He was 72 years old.

He was remembered at his funeral as a strong public servant with a personal side that many people never saw in public.

His funeral procession wound through Dallas from the home he kept with his wife Sarah Dodd to the funeral home on Northwest Highway.

Current and former police leaders from all three cities were there.

Reverend Paula Jefferson opened the service with a eulogy prayer.

“His passion for fairness and justice especially for the most vulnerable among us was a reflection of his very soul,” she said.

Grand Prairie’s current city manager Steve Dye followed Kunkle as that city’s police chief.

“Chief Kunkle forever reshaped and improved the policing profession and I speak for all of my colleagues when I say we truly love the man,” Dye said.

Dye said Kunkle had the self-confidence to make decisions and confront issues when just about everyone was going to question them. But Dye also said he considered Kunkle a very close friend through all those years.

“Chief Kunkle was always proud to hear that I still use the same ab workout today that he taught me in 1988,” Dye said.

Close associates knew Kunkle for fitness as an avid marathon runner.  

Just last week, a plaque appeared on a bench honoring Kunkle along the Dallas Katy Trail where he enjoyed running in healthier times.

Speakers at his funeral said they tried to keep up with Kunkle, including his former Dallas Police Executive Assistant Deborah Joseph.

“He wasn’t just my boss. He became my running partner, my lunch partner, my gym partner and one of my best friends,” she said.

The last time Kunkle was seen in public was December 2022 when he received a lifetime achievement award from Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.  Kunkle was weak that day from the advance of Lewy Body Dementia, which afflicted him for several years and finally took his life.

His widow Sarah Dodd is a public relations executive and former television reporter who first crossed paths with Kunkle in the news arena.

“While David was very proud of his policing career, it did not solely define him,” Dodd said.

She fought back tears at the funeral as she spoke about the love they shared in 17 years of marriage.

“David was a kind man with a wicked sense of humor. His mischievous, boyish grin was so unexpected for a man who publicly seemed so serious,” she said.

The people who knew him said all of those qualities helped make Kunkle a strong leader and friend.

The honor guard at his funeral included police from all three cities presenting flags to family members.

Representing the city of Dallas, with both Mayor Eric Johnson and Police Chief Eddie Garcia out of town, Dallas City Council Member Chad West, a family friend and combat veteran, presented the flag to Michael Kunkle, David Kunkle’s son from a previous marriage.

The jarring tone of a police radio “last call” and a bugle playing taps ended the funeral service.

David Kunkle ran for Dallas Mayor in 2011 but his try at politics ended in a run-off loss to Mike Rawlings.

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