Dad’s Obituary (by Deb)

Thomas “Mike” Payne, Jr., 83

January 11, 1941-January 21, 2024

Mike was called home by God on Sunday morning, January 21st, after a brief hospital stay.  He suffered a ‘sudden cardiac event’ after being admitted for treatment for complications from pneumonia. 

Mike was born in Brooklyn, NY, to Jean-Margaret Donnelly and Thomas Payne.  He leaves behind his sweetheart of 66 years Laraine (nee Hanken, wife of 62 years), a son Thomas III (Jennifer Bancroft), daughters Deborah and Tara Vallin (late-Guillaume); grandchildren Tristan, William and Abigail.  Mike had four siblings who he helped raise after his father’s early passing: Eileen (Sr. of Mercy), Robert (Mary), the late Kevin (Paloo) and John Francis Lees (Sueann).  There are numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, and most definitive of who he was – a collection of half-a-dozen Godchildren.

Mike grew up in Brooklyn where he attended St. Thomas Aquinas grammar school and Madison High School. He was an active member of St. Vincent Ferrer where he was on the Parish Council, Home School Association (pres.) and the Holy Name Society.  Laraine and Mike were quite well known for running the various Parish functions like the New Year’s Eve parties and other social activities.  Mike was also involved in the Knights of Columbus from a very young age, as a Squire.  He was also an active member/president of the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club where he was extremely proud of his hand-made yacht, an 18-foot wood and fiberglass canoe that he painstakingly built in the backyard at East 35th Street.  

The family moved to Tappan in 1978, where the cycle began all over again with involvement in running Church activities such as Bingo and the Parish Clean-ups and again president of the Home School Association and on the Parish Council (Msgr. Murphy).  He was a fixture as a Eucharistic Minister for decades.  He was also a member of the Piermont Chapter of the K-of-C.  

Mike was a salesman by trade, owning his own company Float-Pak Development, but his passion was as frustrated engineer.  He held two US patents and could always be found fixing things or making “Improvements” to things that weren’t necessarily in need of repair.  He was the king of duct-tape, there was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a roll.

Mike was a gentle soul who was often teased for his portrayal of the quintessential Grumpy Old Man.  Truth was he just had no patients for clowns and fools.  He loved keeping busy whether in his workshop or outside with a chainsaw, he was never one to just watch the world go by.  He and Laraine loved traveling the Country having visited all 50 States except Hawaii. They loved just getting in the car and ‘going’ whether driving to Florida, Maine, Canada or just a few days in Atlantic City.  “You are never lost, until you run out of gas.”

He was a voracious reader who was never seen without a book, his Add-A-Handle mug and a cup of grapes.  He had a sharp wit and biting sarcasm, but not a mean bone in his body.  Honest as the day is long, he always gave a person a second chance to disappoint him.  He loved music and enjoyed sports without particularly caring who was playing.  He was a dedicated golfer and a 250 bowler.  He had a three-finger fastball and loved target shooting and ‘armed camping’.  He had the patience of Job to share each of these skills with anyone who showed the least bit of interest in learning.  He was a trained electrician, carpenter and butcher.  He loved making knives and tinkering with his guns.  He enjoyed playing cards with his dearest friends and poker on his phone…the only thing he used it for…

He will be sorely missed. 

Viewing will be at Moritz Funeral Home in Tappan on Friday, January 26th, 4-8pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, January 27th, 1pm, at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Tappan with burial to follow in the Tappan Cemetery.

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