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Monday, December 26, 2016


Agnes Augusta (Ard) Payne was born October 1, 1939, into a very large family of seven children. Agnes was a common family name, as her grandmother McFayden was named Agnes, as was a cousin, and a direct ancestor (Agnes Scott) who lived in the early 1800s  in Scotland.

Ultimately, her family would include five brothers (Elmer "Buster," Merle, Jack, Ed and Bobby) and four sisters (Ethel, Lois, Edith and Verna). She also had two step-siblings from her father's previous marriage. The family lived in a modest-sized house in Osage City, Kansas.

Mom told few stories of her childhood and youth in the small town. She was born towards the end of the Great Depression and the family was poor even by the standards of the time. She shared a bed with multiple siblings and typically wore hand-me-down clothes.

One of her most vivid shared memories of her childhood was watching televised boxing with her father. In high school, she missed an entire year with rheumatic fever. She kept up with her studies, however, and graduated in 1957 with her classmates.

At age 20, Mom married my father, Allen Payne, in July 1960. The Payne family had been neighbors in Osage City and Mom's older sister Ethel married one of my Dad's older brothers (Dean).

Allen Payne worked for a road construction company, so he and my mother soon began living a nomadic life across Kansas and parts of Oklahoma. I was born in August 1961 in Ulysses, Kansas, and my sister Gina was born in October 1962 in Emporia, Kansas. Gina was born only a day after my mother's 23rd birthday.

Sadly, Mom's parents died in 1961 and 1962. My sister and I did not know our grandparents, but had an enormous supply of aunts, uncles and first cousins.

As construction projects were completed, our family moved repeatedly in Kansas -- to Salina, Manhattan, Wichita, McPherson, Ottawa, Ponca City (Oklahoma), Osawatomie (for school, but the rural route home address was Paola), El Dorado, and Kingman. Neither my sister nor I had ever attended the same school more than two years in a row when we arrived in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, in summer 1977. I completed my final two years of high school there and my sister was able to complete her remaining three years.

Throughout those school years, Mom was the primary caregiver as my father worked long hours and often commuted great distances to the worksites. In the construction business, it was common to work six days per week when the weather was good because winter often shut everything down to a stop. As he got older, my father also took on increasingly demanding work responsibilities as he was promoted from laborer to equipment mechanic, to machine operator, to foreman, to supervisor, to executive.

Mom was responsible for integrating the children into new schools almost every year, as well as packing the household for the regular moves. When settled, she transported my sister and I to swim lessons, sports team practices, Brownies and Cub Scouts, bowling leagues, etc. She often did this without much of a social network since the entire family was new to the communities we joined.

As her children grew up and gained independence, Mom occasionally worked in light manufacturing. She worked in sewing factories on multiple occasions, making men's sports jackets and blue jeans. She also worked in a Venetian blind factory as some sort of inspector towards the end of the production process.

Mom was largely responsible for my career as an academic as she was a firm believer in the value of education. She used to help my sister and I prepare for tests and she always made sure our homework was completed. My father and mother set firm rules about bedtime and clearly instilled strong values in my sister and I. Mom often regaled shoe sales staff and clothing clerks with stories of her childrens' successes (this continued through grandchildren). If they listened patiently, they usually earned a sale.

Mom loved dogs and had a fear of cats developed in childhood. The family had a pekinese named Blondie in Wichita that ate only when my mother fed her. She was tolerant of a beagle named Droopy that my sister and I had through most of the 1970s. After I went to college, my parents adopted a part-chow named Sam and a larger mutt named Boots. Sam was friendly to everyone in the family, but Boots followed my mother everywhere.

Mom liked to sew and also crocheted until her worsening arthritis made this impossible. My family still owns several afghans that she made in the 1970s and 1980s. She enjoyed the works of Erma Bombeck and owned a small library of her books. Mom also liked music, especially country music. She was a fan of Mac Davis and Charlie Pride in the 1970s and advanced to Randy Travis in the 1980s. We saw Mac Davis perform live in Kansas City at Worlds of Fun in the 1970s. Mom often spoke favorably of Owasso neighbor Garth Brooks and I think she liked Carrie Underwood as well. She enjoyed gardening too and once had an enormous tomato patch (nearly 50 plants!) and canned a great deal of food.

Mom was a loving and doting grandmother to my children, born in 1993 and 1996, and to a slightly older grandson who was welcomed into the family upon my sister's marriage. A final granddaughter was born in 1998. Grandma and Grandpa Payne traveled frequently to see these grandchildren, provided an enormous amount of babysitting, and generously purchased all kinds of toys, shoes, clothing, and other necessities of childhood.

As my father's career advanced, my parents were able to abandon the nomadic lifestyle. Indeed, my mother lived in Oklahoma from 1977 until her death. Initially, she and my father purchased some rural property near Mannford, Oklahoma and lived there for several years in the mid-1980s. In 1986 or 1987, they purchased a home in Owasso where they lived until late 2004. After a brief stay in a rental apartment, they moved into their last house in 2005 and Mom lived there until she had a bad fall a few years ago. Dad died in October 2008 on Halloween. Save for the last few months of her life, Mom spent several years in an apartment in an assisted living facility near the famous Southern Hills golf course in Tulsa.

Unfortunately, Mom suffered creeping memory loss and some form of dementia. She had a bad fall in August, which landed her in the hospital with a broken arm and injured leg. Sometime in September she contracted a serious infection that sapped her strength and will to live. Indeed, Mom never fully recovered even after a second hospital stay in the autumn. She died on December 23, 2016.


Obituary here.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to the:

Alzheimers Association
225 North Michigan Ave., FL. 17
Chicago, IL 60601

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  1. Very well written Roger! I loved Aunt Aggie and Uncle Alan and they will truly be missed. They were very proud of their family! I can see them now celebrating Christmas together in heaven! Hugs to all of you.

  2. A loving remembrance. She was, no doubt, a very proud parent and grandparent.