Paul Edward Payne

Paul Edward PaynePaul Edward Payne, fondly known to many as Uncle Paul, has had a great influence on almost everyone he had met, from his immediate family, his many federal and local colleagues, to a State Senator. Paul had always walked to the beat of his own drums, doing everything he could for those he loved. He worked tirelessly in life and in the community, taking on magnificent projects that have shaped his family, Inyo and Kern county, and the world itself.

Paul was born to Olin F Payne and Irene Cochenour in Chillicothe Ohio. His father left while he was young, creating a stronger bond with his mother, grandparents, and sister.

Once his age was no longer a barrier to joining the armed forces, enlisting in the military on 01 November 1945. At first, Paul enlisted into the US Army, until Captain Henderson from the Air Force convinced him to join the US Air Force. After Basic Training Paul went to advanced training at Air Force Training School (AFTS) Geiger Air Force Base (AFB), Washington and AFTS Boca Raton AFB, Florida. Paul served in Washington State, Florida and was stationed at Edwards AFB, California.

During his time at Edwards, Paul would work on radar towers in Inyo County, truly feeling at home on highway395. At the Dance Hall in Darwin, he meet the love of his life, his wife Ella.

With his time as a Radar Mechanic Bombardment Specialist his most remarkable moment came at the end of his service when he was furloughed and spent an extra 5 months at 3rd Ind HQ Alaskan Air Command flying back and forth from the states to Alaska. Paul was Honorably Discharged in September 1949 and entered the United States Air Force Inactive Reserve as a Sargent.

During his time up in Alaska, he realized he could not live without Ella and the Owens and chose a discharge. After his Marriage and Discharge from the Air Force Paul would pick up odd jobs around Inyo County at Talc City for two years.

One of his many trips up 395 his car broke down near Inyokern. While it was getting fixed, the mechanic told Paul about an opportunity for a position down in Ridgecrest. Paul ended up applying for a job at China Lake Naval Weapon Center. With his background in Radar from the Air force and his experience, he was hired on the spot and was told to show up to work Monday morning. Paul and Ella moved to China Lake and Paul would spend 28 Years working at China Lake from September 1947 to July 1975. During his time at China Lake Paul would work on some of the most influential projects at the time. His work with project Quick-Turn would change how missiles were launched and controlled for the 20th century, and most importantly, the work guidance system and tracking would be a basis of today’s GPS systems and remote controls. During his time with the Navy, Paul strove to get his GED and took some college math courses to further his career.

After his retirement, Paul started and ran Southern Sierra Ambulance Association providing ambulance service to Southern Inyo until it was incorporated into the Lone Pine Fire Department. As his retirement seemed to be as much work as work, after the death of the 5th District Supervisor, Bob Bremmer, in 1988, many people of the community suggested Paul to run for the office but as he was too late to have his name on the ballet Paul ran as an write in candidate. Paul being the first to win as a write-in candidate, he served as fifth District Supervisor from 1989 to 1997. After his time as Supervisor, he was on the Planning commission until finally he settled into retirement.

Paul Payne is survived by his two daughters, Arline Fath of Lone Pine, CA and Paula Bias of Ridgecrest, CA; eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents, as well as his beloved wife, Ella Payne, his cherished grandsons Paul and Phillip Fath.

Please join his family for a celebration of life at the American Legion Hall, 201 S. Edwards St, Independence, CA 93526 on Thursday April 28th 2022 at 1100. Bring a favorite dish for a potluck afterward.

Story First Published: 2022-04-29