Leon Verl Payne 1944-2021

Leon Verl Payne was born on August 31st, 1944, in Flagler, Colorado to Thomas Jr. and Marjorie Payne. He passed away surrounded by loved ones, on November 1st, 2021 at the age of 77 years old due to ongoing complications with COPD.
Leon was the first born. His sisters Sandra and Norma were born soon after. Little did he know that his baby sis Norma would be his partner in crime and his best friend for life.
Leon grew up south of the Arickaree School where he attended school at the old schoolhouse across from the Arickaree store. When the new school was built, Leon graduated as the Valedictorian from the second graduating class of the new Arickaree High School.
In high school Leon was very athletic. He excelled at football, basketball, and baseball. Leon was awarded All-State in football and in one basketball game scored 47 points. In his early twenties he became a huge fan of wresting while he was the school’s activity bus driver. He was the first to volunteer to take any team to tournaments. He passed this passion on to his family. So much so that Doug was a four-time state wrestling qualifier. His love for sports continued into adulthood watching his children and grandchildren play sports and being a diehard Bronco’s fan.
It was in high school where Leon was re-introduced to the love of his life Pat Miller. They had a brief encounter when they were children. On December 8th, 1961, Leon & Pat were united in marriage. In a few short weeks they would have been married 60 years. Leon often said that marrying Pat was the best decision he ever made. They both shared a great love for travel and did so for many years with family and friends.
Leon & Pat were blessed with three beautiful children, Nicki (who was born on their first anniversary), Valarie (who was born on Leon’s 20th birthday) and Douglas. Leon raised his family around the Arickaree area ranching and farming. In 1977 Leon picked up the family and moved to Otis after accepting a job with the National Farmers Organization. Leon continued to work at various jobs in the agricultural field until he retired in 2005. Otis is where he called home and remained active in local affairs for the remainder of his life.
Leon had a love of the land and of animals. When he was a teenager Leon wanted to become involved in 4-H. His neighbor Merle Patterson made sure he got his wish. Merle would take Leon and his animals to the fair, different shows, and even made sure he was able to catch a calf at the National Western Stock show. It was this one act of kindness that drove Leon to pay it forward for hundreds of kids in the future. Leon was very involved with 4-H and helping the kids in the community. Weather it was being a 4-H leader, superintendent for multiple departments at the county fair, serving on the catch-it-committee’s and even starting up a goat catch it contest in just one day. Leon made sure that if a child was ever in need of anything, they knew that he was the first person to call. Leon and Pat instilled the love for 4-H to their children and grandchildren and were proud to have three generations show livestock at the Northeastern Colorado Round-Up. Leon and Pat created Payne Suffolks so that kids could get quality club lambs for an affordable price. They participated in high end shows all over the country making contacts to buy high end registered rams so that he could provide free breeding services. Leon & Pat would follow these kids throughout their 4-H careers from Sedgwick, Logan, Yuma, and Washington Counties. They would check in on the kids, months before fair, attend their shows, then often purchased an animal at the Livestock Sale. In 1988 Leon was chosen as friend of 4-H for Washington County. In 2021 Leon and Pat were selected to be Grand Marshals for the Northeastern Colorado Round-Up.
Leon was meant to be a dad at a young age because his true calling was being “Grandpa Leon”. His grandchildren and great grandchildren were his world, and he was theirs. There was always someone in his arms wanting to be held or waiting for a story to be told.
Leon will be remembered for his entertaining pranks, hard work ethics, the first one to step up when someone was in need and knocking you over to get to the cash register to buy your meal before you had a chance.
Leon accepted Jesus Christ as his savior in 1971. He loved his Church Family and was a devout member of The First Presbyterian Church of Otis.
Leon is preceded in death by his beloved daughter Valarie, parents, Tom and Marj Payne, inlaws Kenneth and Ethel Miller and brother-in-law Curtis Bowser. Leon is survived by his wife Pat Payne of Otis, Colorado, daughter Nicki Anderson and husband Mark of Omaha, Nebraska, son Doug Payne and wife Sheila of Rockford, Illinois, son-in-law Steve Waller of Haxtun, Colorado, sister Norma Schmidt and husband Al, and sister Sandra Bowser, grandchildren, Brian Anderson and wife Jennifer, Breanna Korf, Robin Zavala and husband Nick, Brittania Payne, Jordan Payne, Jaydin Payne, Kayla Schaffer, and Sierra Schaffer. Thirteen great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.
Services were held at the First Presbyterian Church of Otis on November 6, 2021. Memorial donations can be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Otis. Leon will be greatly missed by everyone whose life he touched.