Walter Neill Hays, beloved husband and father, passed away peacefully on December 12, 2014 at the MortonCountyCareCenter in Elkhart, Kansas after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. To the end, Neill was cared for tirelessly and with endless love and affection by his wife Lila, daughter Becki, and the staff at the Morton County Health System. Neill was born in Danville, Arkansas on August 24, 1935 to Noble Walter and Teddie Alice (Foley) Hays.
Neill was the fourth of six children. The family moved to Letha, Oklahoma when Neill started 5th grade and he later attended SeminoleOklahomaHigh School where he was known as “Squeak”Hays. While attending NorthwesternOklahomaUniversity in Alva, Oklahoma, Neill met Lila Lee Goodnight, who would become his wife of 58 years. Four rambunctious boys and finally one beautiful daughter was born to the marriage. After graduating from college, Neill and Lila both entered into the teaching profession. The Rolla Kansas school district was blessed with Neill’s positive presence for 34 years as a teacher, principal of all schools and ultimately the superintendent. Anyone who met Neill enjoyed his full attention, a strong handshake, a huge smile, and encouraging words. The Hays home in Rolla welcomed not only family, but many friends who were treated like family. After Neill retired from the RollaSchool District he served as Superintendent of schools in Weskan, Kansas. One of Neill’s biggest joys was driving Lila to enjoy their 17+ grandchildren and their endless activities.
Neill is survived by his wife, Lila; his sons Brent (Jan) Hays, Brad (Jeanne) Hays and Bart (Vicki) Hays, all of Bristow, Oklahoma, his son Brock (Katie) Hays of Rifle, Colorado, and his daughter, Becki (Rex) Richardson of Elkhart, Kansas; brothers, Noble Hays and James (Lillian) Hays, both of Seminole, Oklahoma, sisters, Myra Dell (Edward) Ralston of Oklahoma City, and Gayl (Jim) Martin of Grapevine, Texas.
Neill was preceded in death by his sister, Atha June Hays.
Visitation will take place on Monday, December 15, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Garnand Funeral Home in Elkhart, Kansas. A celebration of Neill’s life will take place at the Rolla High School Gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. The family will be available at the school starting at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, where food and drinks will be available and friends are encouraged to gather. Graveside at the EnglewoodKansasCemetery will be at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for memorials to the RollaHigh School, where funds will be used to honor Neill’s memory and contributions to the school and community. Neill’s soul is filled with the joy he received from his interactions with everyone who came into contact with him–young or old, rich or poor, family or friend.