Obituary: Thomas H. Payne

Thomas H. Payne
Thomas H. Payne
Provided Photo

December 21, 1931 – June 19, 2022

Thomas Harris Payne, 90, of Fairway, Kansas, passed away peacefully on the evening of June 19, 2022. Widowed in August 2021 after the passing of his beloved wife of 53 years, Sally, he then also mourned the loss of his 17-year-old dog, Bosco, in October.

Born in the beautiful Appalachian area of Job, West Virginia on December 21, 1931, Tom enlisted in the Navy at 16 years old and thoroughly enjoyed his four years of service on submarines while not seeing active combat during the Korean War. His experience led him to earn a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Indiana Technical College and a lifelong career with Cummins Engine Co. Tom met his first wife, Lois, while in college and they had the first three of his five daughters.

Cummins gave Tom the opportunity to travel and live all over the world, where he later met his second wife, Sally, in London, England. After completing advanced business management courses at Harvard and working in several cities including Columbus, IN and Memphis, TN, his family then settled into the Kansas City area in 1975. With steadfast dedication to both his work and his employees, Tom rose to become the owner of the Cummins Mid-America distributorship before retiring in 1995.

With a true love of all things mechanical, Tom’s favorite car was his Shelby Mustang GT, and he restored many others including an MG, VW bus pickup, and a Land Cruiser pickup. He loved to travel, including Australia twice, New Zealand, Ireland, and often visited friends and Sally’s family in England. Steamboat Springs, CO reminded Tom of West Virginia, and he built many second homes and formed great friendships there for 25+ years. In their later years, Tom and Sally crossed the U.S. together in a motorhome and wintered in Naples, FL with friends.

Tom thoroughly had great fun over his long and fulfilling life, and he was down-to-earth as a true force of nature to contend with. There is no one who knew Tom that doesn’t have colorful (if sometimes legal-ish) stories to tell about him with loud laughter. The overarching theme about Tom is that he was “tough, but fair,” and he offered substantial generosity to those in need without wanting any recognition.

Tom is survived by his children: Susan (Theodore IV) Payne-Growe of Lenexa, KS; Pamela Payne and Julie Payne of Fort Wayne, IN; Jean (Michael) Belancio of Kansas City, MO; Shelley Brown of Blue Springs, MO; grandchildren: T.J. Growe, Colton Brown, and Logan Brown; and his sister, Patty Ann Payne of Parsons, WV. Tom was preceded in death by his dear wife, Sally P.J. Payne; parents, Harry Payne and Mabel Payne; brother Jack Payne; and his infant son, Stephen Payne.

Celebrations of Tom’s life will be held at a future date for family and his many friends in both KC and Steamboat. Condolences and special memories may be left online at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kansas City Hospice House, Harvesters, or Kansas City NPR (KCUR).

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