Deanna Rose loved animals.
She had a warm smile and she dreamed of being a mom one day.
But in January 1985, the 26-year-old Overland Park police officer’s life was tragically cut short while on the job.
When she attempted to arrest a drunk driver, the suspect knocked her to the ground and ran her over with his car. She died two days later from her injuries.
The city was devastated.
In response, what was known as just the “Farmstead” in Overland Park was renamed the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.
And on Friday afternoon, the Overland Park Police Department and the farmstead united to pay tribute to a young woman who only served a few years on the force, but left behind a lifetime of memories.
During the wreath ceremony, which was held in a gazebo at the farmstead, a memorial table displayed photos of Rose, along with her badge, baton and handcuffs.
Around 20 retirees from the Police Department showed up to pay their respects. The department presented her parents with a plaque featuring a purple heart in Rose’s honor.
Rose’s death goes beyond a tragedy, however.
To this day, she remains the only Overland Park police officer killed in the line of duty.
She was also the first female officer in Kansas to die in the line of duty.
And before her life was taken away, Rose was already playing a significant role in history. In 1985, she was just one of five female police officers in Overland Park.
Today, there are 40 women, out of 250 commissioned officers.
For her former coworkers and friends who honored her memory Friday, the wreath service was a fitting tribute to a woman who was passionate about her career.
“Deanna had a bubbly personality and she made friends pretty easily, but once that uniform was on, she was professional and serious,” said Overland Park Police Capt. Bob Kolenda, who was on Rose’s shift on the night she was injured. “She was an outstanding officer, one of the best.”
Her family is honored the farmstead and department still treasure Rose’s service after all these years.
They are still awed the farmstead was named after Rose.
“After thirty years, you think people would forget, but her memory is still clearly very much alive,” said Rose’s older sister, Lynda Horinek. “I love that each new generation of kids gets to know her name.”
Naming the farmstead — a charming replica of a 1900s farm with nearly 200 animals — after Rose was fitting, her sister said.
At the time of her death, Rose and her husband owned an Arabian horse, a hairless cat, a cockatoo and a Rottweiler.
Growing up in Topeka, Rose and her siblings spent hours horseback riding all over town. Their pets included various dogs, cats and parakeets. And for a very brief time, a goat, until the playful creature jumped on top of their dad’s car.
“She would have absolutely loved this place,” said Horinek, with a smile. “Not just because of the animals, but to see the smiles on the children’s faces. I’ve brought my kids here, and now I bring my grandkids here, and it feels like home.”
Rose’s dad, Karl Hummel, feels the same way.
He still vividly remembers the day Rose decided she wanted to a police officer. An officer had given a talk at her junior high school, and the energetic teenager rushed home to excitedly declare she wanted to be one, too.
Amused, her parents figured she was going through a phase. But years later, they watched, impressed, as Rose chased her dream and grasped it, right after graduating college.
When Friday’s ceremony ended and people rushed out of the gazebo in the pouring rain, Hummel remained, clutching the plaque, and watching a few police officers carefully put away Rose’s things and clean up.
The name “Deanna Rose” has different meanings for different people.
For families and kids, the name is a place to spend a relaxing and fun afternoon. For the Overland Park Police Department, it’s a reminder of heroism and dedication.
But for Hummel, the name only has one meaning. She was his little girl.
“For a parent, it doesn’t matter if it’s been one day or 30 years, the horrible pain of losing a child never goes away,” he said. “Sometimes it really does seem like it happened just yesterday.”