Brian Mark Atwell, 56, Hays, died Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, at his brother and sister-in-law’s home in Hays.

A celebration of Brian’s life will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Celebration Community Church, 5790 230th Ave., Hays. Inurnment will be at a later date in the Utica Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine St., Hays.

He was born May 15, 1961, in Ransom, Kansas, the son of Merritt Charles and Thelma Janice (Stutz) Atwell.

He attended elementary and middle schools in Utica and graduated from Utica High School in 1979. He received his associate’s degree in Business from Garden City Community College and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Fort Hays State University. Brian was the Director of Living Independently in Northwest Kansas (LINK, Inc.) for 27 years and was on the state and national advocacy committees for improving the lives of those with disabilities.

He has advocated with Kansas legislators in Washington D.C., the Kansas Legislature, Hays Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other groups for changes in policy for bettering individuals. His growing-up years on the farm led him to great work ethics and compassion for others. Brian was a member of the Longbeards NWTF group and enjoyed the youth day showing of turkey calls. He enjoyed his Celebration Church family in Hays as well as his Utica, Kansas Christian Church family and friends.

Survivors include two brothers; Dennis Atwell and wife Jennie of Hays, Courtney Atwell and wife Paula of Utica, a sister; Merritta Combs of Pomona, Kansas, nine nieces and nephews; Thad Combs and wife Marisa, Theron Combs, Thane Combs and wife Dana, Jason Atwell, Justin Atwell and wife Trina, Jeff Atwell and wife Jamie, Brooke Nech and husband Justin, Taylor Atwell and wife Jessica, and Danee’ Langer and husband Jeremy, and 15 great nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

The family encourages donations in Brian’s memory to the Brian Atwell Memorial Scholarship for youth endeavors, in care of the funeral home. He liked to “pay it forward” to better his community and America. Condolences may be left for the family at www.haysmemorial.com