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THOMAS WARD PAYNE | Visit Guest Book
Thomas Ward Payne, 90. Dad was born October 31, 1921 to Thomas Clay and Ena Ward Payne on the farm that had been owned by his mother's family for over 100 years. An only child he grew up as the "younger brother" of an older cousin, Herman Eddleman, who was raised by dad's parents when his own parents died at an early age. Because dad was born with club feet on both legs, he had the unique experience of coming to Memphis as a toddler with his parents to have them surgically corrected by Dr. Willis Campbell. Dad fondly recalled going to Dr. Campbell's workshop for several years, watching him make and adjust braces for dad. It was there that dad become interested in tools, details and woodworking. Born to a farmer and his wife, dad learned early the strong sense of responsibility to family, a trait he demonstrated to the end of his life. His heart's desire was to be a veterinarian, as his grandfather had been. But the difficulty of life on a farm during the depression and dad's sense of responsibility to farm and family kept him at home. He graduated from Newbern High School where he played football and was involved in Future Farmers of America. He met Mary Kathryn Forsythe, a brown-haired beauty from Dyersburg on a blind date. She became the love of his life when the married on May 31, 1942, the day after mom's graduation from high school, and have shared 69 years of friendship and love together. Dad was drafted into the service of his country during World War II, serving as a communications specialist in the European front and during the Battle of the Bulge under Gen. George Patton. He was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery at the Battle of Ste. Lo, France. As a member of "the Greatest Generation" he came home, worked as a lineman, then a test deskman for South Central Bell before retiring after 46 years of faithful service. He and mom bought a house in the first subdivision built after World War II in Memphis, raised two daughters, Susan Davis Sanders (Kenneth deceased) and Mary Ann Cole (Steve), and a granddaughter, Heather Lynn Davis. Dad knew Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and raised his girls in "the admonition of the Lord". He actively served as a Deacon and Elder at Macon Road Presbyterian Church which was close enough to home that we could walk. He later served as both deacon and elder at Highland Heights Presbyterian Church, frequently teaching his Sunday school class. Always a dog-lover, dad was never without a dog at home. From Snowball, Mickey, and Poncho the Poodle, to his beloved Shelby-dog, a gentle Springer Spaniel who's life dad saved and who "saved" dad's life, to Rudi, a fun-loving Springer who gently 'kissed' dad's hands in his last days of life. Dad loved wood-working, having built furniture for their home. His laugh was contagious and was always triggered by his life-long best friend, Lexie Cobb. He loved traveling, camping, photography, square dancing with mom, and the Tennessee Vols. Dad was always thoughtful, a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, kind, wise and always thinking, praying, and seeking advice before making a decision. He lived a disciplined life until illness set in, as witnessed by his daily exercise routine, devotional reading, and the blessing before every meal. Truly, he was a godly man, a devoted and loving husband, dad and grandfather. We will miss him greatly in this earthly life, but know confidently with blessed assurance that we shall see him again in Heaven. We love you, daddy. In addition to his beloved wife, Katie and "the girls", dad also leaves four grandchildren: Maggie Sanders of Memphis, John Sanders of Oxford, MS, Joanna Sanders Lemmon (Andy) of Starkville, MS, and Thomas Wyatt Cole, his namesake, of Memphis, as well as two sweet great-grandsons Michael Thomas and Henry Andrew Lemmon. Dad also leaves behind our extended family of loving caregivers, Tynja Green, Jovitta Henderson, and Geneva McKinnie who have cared for mom and dad as their own. Visitation will be Monday, February 20 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens at 5599 Poplar Avenue. Funeral services will be Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11 a.m. at Highland Heights Presbyterian Church in Cordova, TN with interment to follow at the Rehobeth Cemetery in Newbern, TN beginning at 3 p.m. The family would also like to extend our sincerest thanks to the caregivers of "Where the Heart Is", to the staff of Crossroads Hospice, the doctors, nurses, social workers, and staff at the Veteran's Administration Hospital for their help, kindness and love to dad, mom and our family. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Highland Heights Presbyterian Church of Cordova, TN or the Memphis Union Mission.

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