Thomas Barton Payne


Died November 22, 1939 – August 29, 2012,Haddon Township, New Jersey

College: Calhoun
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Military Service: U.S. Army

Children: John, 1970; Thomas, 1973
Grandchildren: Jessica, 1999; Caylin, 2001

On August 29, 2012, Age 72, of Haddon Township, NJ. Beloved father of John Britton Payne of NYC, NY, Thomas Clayton Payne and his wife Sarah T. Payne of Cherry Hill, NJ. Dear brother of Penelope Payne of Delaware, the late Patricia W. Payne and Jefferson Payne. Loving grandfather of Jessica J. Payne & Caylin E. Payne. Adored uncle of Barry Stapleford and Amanda Stapleford. A generous and loving man whom will be deeply missed. Bart was born and raised in Woodbury, NJ. He served in the US Army and later worked as mechanical engineer for Philadelphia Electric for over 30 years, before retiring in 1991. He volunteered at the Engineers Club of Philadelphia from 1968-2008, and served as President in 1982. He adored vacationing at 49th street beach in Ocean City, NJ where he spent many wonderful hours with his granddaughters. He loved his walks through Haddon Twp. and visiting with people he knew & cared about. Bart loved Haddon Twp. High School Sports, and enjoyed supporting them. He is loved by all, and we will miss him from the bottom of our hearts. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his memorial service on Thurs., Sept. 6th , 7PM at HADDON TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL in the auditorium, 406 Memorial Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bart’s memory may be made to the Haddon Township Athletic Hall of Fame, c/o Mickey Tesoro, Haddon Twp. High School at the address above.The Family wishes you honor their request for no flowers, and if you wish please make your donation to the charity chosen. Thank you. Anyone who wrestled at Haddon Township High School in the last quarter-century likely had an on-camera interview with the team’s official historian, Yale graduate and retired engineer Bart Payne.

Eventually, Payne would get around to the dreaded question: “How are your grades?”

But it was not to pass judgment on the kids. Quite the opposite, says his son, John “Britt” Payne.

“His interviews seemed designed to make the kids feel good about themselves,” adds the New York resident.

“He wanted the kids to know that somebody cared, to feel good about themselves.”

Thomas Barton Payne died last week at 72 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis.

The Woodbury native retired at 51 from the Philadelphia Electric Company and split his time between volunteering at the Engineer’s Club in Philadelphia and recording major events in the township, where he had moved in 1967.

“He had always been active in community activities,” says another son, Clayton Payne of Cherry Hill. “But I think he was looking for a place where he could add value.”

That value was seen first through the lens of a bulky video camera Bart Payne hauled to major township events such as the annual pre-prom promenade and 5K run. But it was Haddon Township High School wrestlers who took up most of Payne’s footage, which he meticulously edited to mark every team’s season. Then Payne would make each wrestler his own highlight reel and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and announcements.

“It was something each kid looked forward to,” recalls Matt Myers, a former wrestler who earned the township’s Bart Payne award in 2011 for “selfless contributions to Haddon Township wrestling.”

“The videos were a staple,” says the 20-year-old. “Good year or bad year, everyone looked forward to Mr. Payne’s video. And he didn’t expect anything in return. He just enjoyed giving back.”

It wasn’t unusual, Britt recalls, for older wrestlers to pass down advice on preparing for an interview.

The hobby started with one antiquated VCR hooked to another. Eventually Bart bought a Mac and taught himself how to edit, depending on handwritten cheat sheets sprawled across a desk in his Crystal Lake Avenue home.

Financially stable, Bart Payne spent little on himself. He kept the same Timex watch for years until it had to be duct-taped. Besides wrestling, he donated time and money to the track and girls’ gymnastics programs.

“He seemed to have a whole second relationship with the community,” says Britt, whose niece was asked what word she would use to describe her grandfather: generous.

“He was generous with everything,” says Clayton Payne. “His time, his love, his availability.”

Bart Payne will get some of that back Thursday night at a memorial service in the high school’s lower gym.

Jackson Funeral Home in Westmont is handling his funeral, but can’t accommodate the hundreds expected to attend.

Britt Payne says the service will be shown outside the auditorium in case of spillover.

“It’s crazy and it’s comforting at the same time,” he acknowledges. “It’s sad for us, but the community is losing a lot, too.

“Now, we’re really getting a sense of the contributions he made.”

Reach Christina Mitchell at (856) 486-2442 or

I retired from a paying job in 1991. Since then I kept from being a couch potato by doing lots of volunteer work at The Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia and in my home community.

For 17 years I ran the Continuing Education program at the Engineers’ Club and was president of the Philadelphia Engineering Foundation until I stepped down in 2008.

I still continue to do volunteer work in my home town by taking videos of local events and high school athletic contests which I put on our local education TV channel. I maintain a web site where I keep statistics on all South Jersey wrestlers and South Jersey participants in the track weight events (shot put, discus and javelin).

In addition, I provide each Haddon Township High School wrestler at the end of the season with a video disk of all his matches and a scrapbook that is about an inch thick. The scrapbooks are individualized for wrestler, and they include statistics, newspaper clipping and loads of photographs. The photos are black and white except for the ones of that wrestler which are in color.

I’m a member of the Haddon Township Municipal Alliance and am the recording secretary Haddon Township High School Athletic Hall of Fame. I was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 because of my involvement with the Haddon Township High School athletics.

Also, I make yearly contributions to a number of Philadelphia museums, schools and other volunteer organizations.

I feel it is important to give back to our communities.