Robert F. Payne
April 24, 1936 – July 3, 2018
Written by ‘Captain Bob’ himself
Robert F. Payne, age 82, (dob 4/24/36) of South Orleans died on July 3 from a heart attack as he was recovering from a fractured hip. He was a descendant of the Winslow family that settled on Pleasant Bay, and he lived there until he died in the home he built overlooking the Bay. Born in California, he spent every summer in Orleans and was proud to call himself a third generation Cape Codder. “I would have spent all my time here, if I could have” he said.
Payne had a deep love for the Bay, Orleans and its history and left behind countless stories of his adventures of traveling around the work and his pleasure in helping his family, friends and others.
He is survived by a sister Lucy Daniels of Brewster, two brothers, George Payne of South Orleans and Teddy Fay of Thailand, and nieces Lucy, Stephanie, Melissa Daniels and nephew William Daniels, and Lee and Jackson Payne and many grand nieces and nephews and extended family.
Payne was descended from Edward Winslow, a Mayflower passenger ad a governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and from Mary Snow, the first child born on the Mayflower, who married Thomas Paine. Because of the large number of Paines in New England, the family name was later changed to Payne. Robert was the son of Lucy Winslow Hill and her second husband, Frederick Payne. Payne’s grandmother, Lucy Freeman Winslow, was the sister of Sidney Winslow, owner of the United Shoe Company in Beverly, Ma and together the family owned much of the land on big Pleasant Bay.
Robert grew up in Santa Monica, Ca attending schools with the sons of Hedy Lamar and Edward Robinson. He once refused a kiss from a young Elizabeth Taylor and played marbles with James Dean as a kid.
At age 12, he worked at Acme Laundry in Chatham, moving up from folding shirts to be a sheet shaker. HE also worked threading pipe as a kid in the Smith Brothers Store, now the site of True Value Hardware. He shoveled gravel for Ray Perrault and worked with Norman Sibley of Eastham who ran the Winslow gardens.
Payne paid his own way through the University of Idaho, picking potatoes and trying to work deep underground the Coeur de Lene mines. He later got a Bachelor of Science degree in advertising from Bryant College and his masters in education at Suffolk University.
His young life was full of adventure. He worked on a freighter to Canada and England. He loved to ski and worked as a ski instructor in Bad Gastein, Austria and explored Europe on his beloved Supermax motocycle. He traveled to Cuba and was there just before Fidel Castro felled the corrupt Batista regime. He later worked in New York City running a magazine.
Robert started substitute teaching in Boston public schools and started a ski school in Canton, Ma for troubled youth, one of his favorite jobs. “If you can teach kids to do something well, it changes their lives.” Payne said.
He moved to Norwell and taught there for 21 years, mostly science in middle school. He was a Boy Scoutmaster for 17 years. While teaching he restored an antique house in Norwell. He treasured visits later in life from his former students and Scouts.
Payne built his Orleans house in Winslow land, given to him by his mother, and added a boathouse. He retired and lived there for the rest of his life.
Legally blind for years, he was fiercely independent and was thankful to Nauset Neighbors volunteers for trips to the market, post office and the essentials of daily life.
An accomplished carpenter, handyman, jeweler, and gardener, Payne usually had three drills charging by his front door and geraniums overwintering in his basement.
The date of a memorial will be posted here when set.
Memorial donations may be made to:
Nauset Neighbors PO Box 1716, Orleans, MA 02653 Sight Loss Services PO Box 241, South Dennis, Ma 02660
Robert F. Payne
July 19, 2018
I got to know Robert when I stopped by to help around the house. Sometimes we ran errands but mostly I enjoyed learning from Robert. He had a way of telling a story while integrating it with family and times in history. I received several geography and construction lessons and we shared a love for Pleasant Bay. We discussed the importance of conservation on the Cape and we talked teaching, sailing, fishing, scouts, skiing and publishing. I was sad to learn of his passing and will miss his companionship. Rest in piece Robert.
July 18, 2018
Dear family of Robert Payne,
My husband, Chris, and I want to express our deepest condolences for your loss. We were Robert's distant neighbors on Towhee Lane. We enjoyed times with Robert down at his boathouse, and were amazed at the artistic flair he had. He was funny as could be, and we always laughed our way through our get togethers. He had a very hard time, though, letting go of what had happened to the family land. It haunted him and his light heart would turn sad talking of it. Then, the sun would come out again and he would tell another bawdy story! He had hysterical tales to tell of courting ladies; yet not courting anyone who could not make it up and down those boathouse steps!! We very much enjoyed knowing him. Once, his pet seagull landed on our deck and simply communed with us for a day, as it often would with Robert. He was a very special spirit.
Ann and Chris Donner
July 10, 2018
I have nothing but fond memories of Robert and his family, it was my pleasure doing business with them. I would smile every time Robert called or came into the office, his delightful and charming personality was palpable. I learned a lot about him from his obit, so well rounded from his unique experiences. Rest in peace, Robert.