Leland Gerald Payne, 1927 -2003
Leland Gerald Payne was born in the first hospital in High Prairie on Sept. 23, 1927, the third child of George and Helen Payne.
Jerry, as everyone knew him, spent his entire life living and working in the High Prairie area. His sons are the third generation of Paynes on the farm that he grew up on.
He did most of his schooling at the old Gilwood school. He quit school at a young age to help the family. He always said the reason he quit had more to do with a racing mishap on his horse on the way home from school. There is probably more to the story, but Jerry ended up with a broken shoulder and never did return to school.
As a young man he had many different jobs, from driving a team on a threshing crew to logging in the bush every winter. There are many stories told by Bob and Jack Williscroft, Stan Ragan, Gus Himmelrich and Stan Kozie to name a few, that involved Jerry and his practical jokes in those young years.
In 1947 he reacquainted himself with a young lady from Gilwood. Thelma Faye Beamish (Faye) and Jerry were married on Oct. 12, 1949. On April 2, 1950 the young couple moved to the Payne farm after George and Helen retired and moved to town.
It was five years of farming, raising livestock and working out every winter, leaving Faye behind to look after the farm before the children came. Patrick David was born Dec. 19, 1954; Gordon Gerald on April 20, 1957; and Marty Richard was born on June 10, 1960.
With a wife and the three boys he wanted to work closer to home. He then went to work for Frank and Mac Carson in a pulpwood camp. He worked for Forestry scaling logs and also had a career as a weed and warble inspector for the Improvement District.
Along with the farming and cattle he kept busy. Being the father of three lively boys is a challenge for any young man and these boys were no exception. There was never a dull moment. Jerry told the story of Gordon at age five wanting to go hunting with his dad. Gordon was told "not this time" but that wasn't going over very well. Jerry was perched on the river bank lining up a beaver in the gun sight when he heard a rustle behind him. There was Gordon. Even then you couldn't keep him from hunting.
Marty loved to ride on the farm machinery with his father. There was an incident where Marty was riding on the stoneboat. Jerry popped the clutch and down went Marty with the stoneboat running right over him. Jerry didn't even know that he had fallen. It was Faye that came upon one very muddy, dirty, crying little boy. He never did sit on the front of the stoneboat again.
Pat was always the laid back son. He loved to go on the trail rides and hikes with Jerry, Gordon and Marty. The only problem was he wanted to stop after 20 minutes and picnic. That didn't go over very well.
In the summer of 1970 Jerry and the boys found a perfect spot on the banks of the West Prairie River to build a cabin. They became pioneers for a week and constructed a log cabin. That cabin was the site of many camping adventures for the boys for many years. This week spent with their dad in the bush remains one of the most vivid and cherished memories of all the boys.
Jerry was always proud of his sons. The many teenage escapades give both Faye and Jerry a few grey hairs but they all survived. With Rodger Gauthier coming to live with them in the mid-1970s and the likes of Richard Kocon, Eddie Kozie, Les Beamish and Dale Greer along with the many, many others coming and going there was never a dull moment. He told me once he feared for his life when all those boys starting driving on the Gilwood road.
Eventually the boys settled down, with Gordon marrying Sandra in 1981 and having two children: Jacob, 20, and Katie, 18. Marty and Mary-Anne were married in 1984 and have four children: Meghan, 18, Jeremy, 16, Hilary, 10, and Jillian, eight. The family has recently met and got to know Ron Toly, 24, Marty's eldest son, who has brought much happiness and joy in the short time they've know him.
Patrick is single and still looking.
Jerry (Grandpa) loved children and they all loved him. He was a terrible one for teasing and joking with them. They all learned not to let all the teasing bother them -like water off a duck's back. It didn't take any of them long to learn to give it right back to him.
There are countless pictures of Jerry with a baby on his tummy. He would be stretched out on his easy chair sound asleep with a very contented baby, also sleeping. As each grandchild got older they soon figured out that Grandpa always had a stash of candies.
Jerry spent many hours with his grandchildren. He took them on quad rides along the river, pointing out all the new and interesting things, all the while imparting his love of nature and his farm that he loved dearly.
Each child and grandchild have their special memories they treasure. The one thing they all remember is Jerry's special poems. He had an endless supply of limericks and ditties that he took great delight teaching them. It didn't take long before the children figured out the poems that could be repeated to mom and the ones that couldn't.
Jerry and Faye retired from farming and moved to town in 1996. Life got a lot less hectic. He spent many hours in his garage fixing things and making diamond willows. He had a holiday trailer set up down by the river on Gordon's where he'd go camp out and quad for a few days at a time. His little piece of heaven - we all know it as Camp Crusty.
In the last year his failing eyesight prevented him from getting out and about. It was a sad day when he had to give up driving. His missed the coffee group gossip a lot. He accepted the limitations of his advancing blindness and age with a calmness that surprised all of us.
We will miss Jerry for many reason: his wisdom, his love of children, his stories, his love of a good story, his love of desserts, his love of life and his family.
A memorial service was held for Jerry on April 30 at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in High Prairie. Officiating was Rev. Roy Dickson, the eulogist was Mary-Anne Payne and the organist was Anna Stokes. Honourary pallbearers were Gilbert Delorme, Larry Adams, Richard Kocon, Rodger Gauthier, Louis Delorme, Garry Basarab and Darryl Gill.
Leaving to mourn Jerry are his three sons: Gordon (Sandra) and their two children, Jacob and Katie; Marty (Mary-Anne) and their four children, Meghan, Jeremy, Hilary, and Jillian, and Ron Toly, Marty's eldest son; and Patrick; and siblings Joe, Nora, Bob and Betty.
Jerry was predeceased by his parents and siblings Bill, Dora and Margaret.
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