NORTHWEST FLORIDA — It had been a long journey for Richard Schmelz, a High Springs resident who rolled into the Walton County Sheriff's Office early Tuesday.

Schmelz sat in his wheelchair gripping one of 67 handmade gifts he spent over a year delivering to every sheriff's office in the state. His wife pushed him up to the front office Tuesday, where Sheriff Michael Adkinson met him to accept the gift.

"This all started back when the two Gilchrist County deputies were eating lunch and got killed," Schmelz said. "It was a senseless killing. It affected me. I wanted to do something to honor them. Law enforcement don't get the respect they deserve anymore. I wanted to show them that respect and that somebody cares."

Schmelz, who used to make cypress clocks as a hobby, made one for each of the Florida counties in May of 2018. He personalized each with the sheriff's offices' logos, along with the quote "No one here kneels alone."

On Tuesday, he ended his year-long mission with deliveries to Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Escambia and Calhoun counties.

 

Corey Dobridnia, spokeswoman for the Walton County Sheriff's Office, said the visit from Schmelz was touching.

"I really can't say enough," Dobridnia said. "He's very humble. He didn't want praise or recognition."

Schmelz did request, however, for the clock to be hung somewhere deputies could see it. Dobridnia said they planned to honor his request and hang it in the patrol room.

All but six of the clocks were hand-delivered, Schmelz said. There was too much traffic in the Orlando area, so he said he decided to send the six clocks through the mail instead.

After delivering the last of his clocks, Schmelz said he didn't feel relieved. He instead wondered what he was going to do now that his goal was complete.

"It gave me a lot of gratification," Schmelz said after reaching Santa Rosa County by noon. "The clocks are absolutely beautiful. Hopefully this inspires others to do something."