LENEXA, Kan. -- His colleagues say the metro lost a stand up man and firefighter to cancer over the weekend.
Lt. Michael Wells' family lives in the Northland, but he worked in Lenexa.
Deputy Fire Chief Travis Vaughn said there has been somebody standing beside Wells, watching over him, since he died Saturday. That just begins to describe the tight-knit firefighter family he built at the Lenexa Fire Department.
"From the moment that he passed in the hospice house at North Kansas City, we have assembled a group, and we have stayed by his side," Vaughn said.
The entire fire department fought back tears after losing one of their own.
Wells was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer. His battle with cancer began in October 2018, which meant so did the Lenexa Fire Department's fight.
They put on fundraisers and shaved heads in support of the Wells' family. He leaves behind a wife and three young children.
"I hope that the family understand that the support that they've got the last 10 months, there is no intention of us stopping that or separating that for forever," Vaughn said.
Wells served with the department from 2005-2019.
"There were some tears shed, but Mike was a strong man," Vaughn said. "He never complained once through his whole battle, and he would want us to continue to serve and to serve in a productive and positive way in his name."
Vaughn said Wells' brute strength, charisma and genuine ability to connect with people made him an incredible firefighter and even better person -- a true "hometown hero" that will be missed.
"Mike was so well loved and was such a man to admire that it's hit hard for many of us," Vaughn said. "But we are choosing to allow to solidify our culture and that's what mike would've wanted."
Vaughn said that will have a traditional fire fighter funeral for Wells, using the fire truck. The family has asked donations be made in Michael's name to "Answering the Call."
Something you might not know about Wells: He was a top-notch home brewer who won ribbons in 38 different states.
A group of local breweries got together and decided to host an event for Wells at each of their spaces every Friday night through Feb. 20, 2020.
Services for Wells will be Wednesday and Thursday. Find more information here.