Jesse Dwayne Atwell

Dwayne Atwell was an educator, an inventor, a herpetologist, writer, photographer, and, most importantly, a man of integrity. He passionately loved his country, venomous snakes, and his wife of 31 years, Cheryl.

Atwell quietly passed away the morning of Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at age 75. Raised on a farm in Little Sioux, Iowa, he served in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Detachment in Alaska. After successfully completing both a BA and MA at Utah State University in four years, he dedicated his life to educating young and old in formal and informal settings.

From the rugged country of the Snake River Schools in Idaho, to the prestigious Osborne School District of the mid 1970s; from the southernmost Arizona border in Patagonia during the 1980s, and continuing his service to the children of Arizona on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation in the 1990s, Dwayne Atwell was an advocate of authentic and meaningful educational practices long before it was politically correct to do so. His dedication to Native American children was honored when Atwell was adopted into the Kinyaa'nii (Towering House) clan.

After his "retirement" from education, Atwell used his mountain home in Nutrioso as a writing retreat to complete several volumes on southwest rattlesnakes and a venomous snake checklist. Even after moving back to the Phoenix area, he worked tirelessly to improve the knowledge of people who lived side by side with the venomous snakes of Arizona, giving free seminars and relocating rattlesnakes away from populated areas.

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl; four children: Aaron, Chaylene, Brent and Rachelle; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Atwell's intelligence and honor, passion and wicked sense of humor leaves a void in the lives and hearts of many.

A celebration service is planned for Saturday, June 27, 2009 at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort from 2-4 p.m. For location and Atwell memorial room rates please contact the resort at (602) 866-7500. Other questions can be answered by calling Alison at (602) 769-7621 or JoLynn at (817) 602-6867.

Please visit to sign his guestbook.


Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.