Before Nicholasville police officer Burke Rhoads died in March 2015 in a three-car crash on a foggy U.S. 27 in Garrard County while on his way to training, he set a personal goal to please his wife, Melissa, and daughter Jacquelyn.
Rhoads said he would have his 1984 Corvette restored in time for his daughter’s prom in 2018, when she was 16.
Last July, Melissa Rhoads called the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green to report that her late husband’s project remained unfinished and that she needed a recommendation for a shop to paint the car.
“We started researching by reaching out to the Bluegrass Corvette Club based in Lexington, and even asked around at the Somernites car show in Somerset,” museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli said.
Never miss a local story.
“With a project as special as this, you want to make sure the car is in good hands,” Frassinelli said. “At some point I thought, “Why don’t we at the museum head up taking care of this car?”
“As a 501c3 nonprofit foundation, we typically are not able to take on outside projects, but this was different. We have always tried to extend our gratitude to law enforcement and military with various free or reduced-price admission promotions, but to be able to translate that appreciation into a physical act of kindness was very meaningful for our team.”
Several businesses contributed. PPG Automotive Refinish donated a bright red paint. Final Finish in Morgantown painted the car.
Melissa Rhoads delivered the Corvette to the museum in August and was welcomed with applause and cheers from staffers.
“Burke was very hands-on with his Corvette. He even went to the upholstery shop to learn how to stitch the seats so he could do that himself,” she said in a statement. “It would be different if we had money and he bought everything, but we got to see him work on it. I knew how much of his own time he spent on it, and I always knew how things were going by the amount of cussing.”
Besides a paint job, the museum took care of installing several needed parts and taking care of problems including leaky windows. Donations were given by Corvette Central, Auto Zone and Midas and Bluegrass Corvette Club members.
The restoration team’s final touch was adding Burke Rhoads’ police emblem and name patch to the Corvette’s center console.
The finished car was revealed Saturday to the family, friends and Corvette enthusiasts visiting the museum.
“I can’t express my appreciation and thankfulness for everything,” Melissa Rhoads said.