“Jim was passionate, driven and funny,” recalled Greg Smith, a member of the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame who served as Playhouse technical director during Payne’s tenure as managing director. “Seeing him inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame was a highlight for me. My tenure at the Playhouse was better because of him. He will be missed.”
“Jim was legendary,” echoed Kevin Moore, artistic director of the Human Race Theatre Company. “He kept growing the Playhouse to what it has become today. He was smart, friendly and a perfectionist. We’ve missed him in the theater world for a while and we’re going to continue to miss him even now.”
Shortly before Payne’s death, Lockwood and Riley reached out to his friends to share reflections by way of birthday cards. Here are a few of those remembrances:
“He will always be special to me,” Riley said. “He was the starting point of the second part of my life, and we did some great things together.”
“I was a little intimidated by Jim at first – he was confident, well-trained and had done many shows – but I came to love him very quickly,” Lockwood added. “I assistant directed lots of shows he directed and was in several shows as well. He really taught me a lot about acting and directing. He was a mentor.”
Payne is survived by his life partner James L. Hayden as well as his sisters Katherine Applebee and Christine (Milton) Baldridge along with many nieces and nephews. Payne and Hayden, affectionately known as “The Jims,” loved their Cabin-in-the-Woods and entertaining family and friends and their dog, Mitzi.
A visitation will be held Thursday, March 10 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Kindred Funeral Home, 400 Union Blvd., Englewood. Services will be held Friday, March 11 at 9:30 a.m. at Kindred Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider a donation to the Dayton Playhouse, PO Box 3017, Dayton, 45401-3017.