Ronald Glenn Payne was born on May 2, 1944, making him one of the few who could say he was alive the last time his beloved Chicago Cubs won the NL Pennant before 2016. He was born in Gainesville, Texas, to Nina (Lacey) and Vergil Payne. Vergil, who was part of the occupying forces in Japan, would not be able to come home to meet his only son until 1947.
Ron grew up in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, listening to Cubs baseball and Houston Oilers football games on his transistor radio. He graduated high school in 1962. From there, he went on to Southwestern Oklahoma State University where he received his degree in education. He earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Indiana, and his EeD from Oklahoma State University. Ron met his bride, Karel Kay Humphrey, while at Southwestern. They married in 1969, and made their home in Perry, where Karel taught elementary school. It was here that Ron picked up a Maroons football jersey that he would wear every Saturday, for the next 30 years, to mow the lawn. It never seemed to bother him that his twins, Jon and Kristi, were mortified by this spectacle.
In 1974 Ron and Karel moved to Normal, IL, so he could start his career in AudioVisual instruction at Illinois State University. While they enjoyed their time in Illinois, they were thrilled to move back home to Oklahoma in 1980 when Ron landed a job at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He worked the majority of his career in the AudioVisual Department at OSU, becoming Head in 1990. He was active in many civic and professional organizations serving as President in several. He retired in 2010, after 30 years at OSU.
Ron raised his kids to be both Chicago Cubs and OSU Cowboys fans. (His eldest son, Ron II, now likes the other university, which the rest of us can’t fathom.) Once, following a particularly dreadful loss to Texas A&M, his daughter, Kristi, asked him why he taught them to love OSU so much. His Answer? “It builds character.”
Ron had a gentle soul. He rarely raised his voice, and never passed up an opportunity to help a panhandler on the street corner. Animals loved him, and he was often caring for a bird that fell out of its nest, or a bunny rabbit living under the back porch, or a box turtle that one of his dogs was fond of “playing” with. Dogs were his favorite, though. He favored miniature dachshunds, but he was known to rescue a mutt or two from the local animal shelter. Ron was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church in Stillwater. He taught several Sunday School classes, helped out with Mobile Meals, and served as Karel’s “honey-do” during VBS every summer.
Ron is survived by his wife of 49 years, Karel, of the home; his son Ron Payne II and wife, Judy, of Woodward; his daughter Renae Bagzis and husband, Mike, of Cheyenne; daughter Kristi Leonard and husband, Ran, of Oklahoma City; and son Jon Payne of Minneapolis, MN. His grandchildren include: Mark Hindman (Kayla) of Oklahoma City, LaTisha (Travis) Brecheen of Coalgate, Kayla (Billy) Hodges of Weatherford, Kyle Bagzis of Cheyenne, and Payton Leonard and Karoline Leonard, of Oklahoma City. He also boasts great-grandkids, cousins, nieces, nephews, and loads of other relatives in Western Oklahoma, where most everyone is related somehow or another. Visitation with the family will be Wednesday, March 28 from 7 pm – 8:30 pm at Strode Funeral Home. Services will be held Friday, March 30, 2 pm at First United Methodist Church with a reception following. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the OSU Foundation or the Stillwater Humane Society.
One of the final trips Ron was able to take before growing too sick, was to Chicago to enjoy Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary game. In true form, the Cubs lost. Afterward, he said that it couldn’t have ended any other way, which made us all smile.