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Ethel Payne

October 31, 2019
Ethel Payne
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Obituary for Ethel Payne

Ethel Payne, 82, died October 31, 2019.

Our angel, Ethel Wilborn Payne was born January 31, 1937 in Sardis, MS to the late Daniel and Rubbie Wilborn.
She moved to Memphis TN at the age of 15 as a caregiver for her grandmother. She was a proud graduate of Booker T. Washington High School where she was a member of the Pom-Pom Squad.
After graduation she attended LeMoyne College for two years and eventually enrolled in cosmetology school, where she met her life-long friend, Eunice Boddie. Upon graduation she began her career with Gould’s Beauty Salon, a job she held for 15 years.
During this time she was joined in marriage to the late John Calvin Payne.
She began her employment with the City of Memphis Public Library in 1973 where she worked faithfully for 35 years. Upon her retirement, she realized that she loved and missed working with students and began part-time work in the LeMoyne-Owen College library where she worked until her recent illness.
She received Christ at an early age and led an exceptional life by serving others. She was an active and faithful member of Greater Middle Baptist Church. She sang in the Chancel Choir and as well served on the Trustee Board. It was Ethel’s love of books and knowledge that led her to establish a library for the church at its current Knight Arnold Road location.
Known as a phenomenal cook, BBQ was her specialty. Over the years she provided BBQ for each of her grandkids’ graduations. Her culinary skills were always the highlight of any family function.
Her musical tastes ran from Classical to Jazz and she introduced her girls to every art form available; ballet, opera, museums and theater and always encouraged them to learn, grow and have new experiences.
She loved to travel and explore new places and meet new people. Cruising became a favorite as well as simple things like the many road trips she took with her daughters.
Ms. Payne was also an avid shopper. She loved fashion and was always “well put together.”
On October 31, 2019 she departed this life peacefully moments after her granddaughter Kori arrived at her bedside. She is preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Peggy Waller.
She leaves to cherish her memory her two devoted daughters, Gloria Clark and Ruby Whalum, her loving son-in-law Kirk, four beautiful grandchildren, Courtney Whalum, Kyle Whalum (Jaymie), Kori Whalum Hall (Tim) and Evan Whalum (Ashleigh) and her six precious great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind her brother Daniel Wilborn, a niece, Angela Waller, her dear cousins, friends, church members and co-workers.
Though small in stature, she was bold, effervescent and feisty until the end. Her children and grandchildren will dearly miss her Christmas sweaters and her witty and “creative” answers when she joined the family games after every holiday meal.

Serenity Funeral Home and Cremation Society, Tel. (901) 377-3543.

Previous Events





11:00 AM 11/12/2019 11:00:00 AM
Greater Middle Baptist Church

4982 Knight Arnold Rd,
Memphis, TN 38118

Greater Middle Baptist Church
4982 Knight Arnold Rd, Memphis 38118 TN
United States

Cemetery Details


Serenity Columbarium and Memorial Garden - Rotunda Final Resting Place

1622 Sycamore View Rd.
Memphis , TN 38134

1622 Sycamore View Rd. Memphis 38134 TN
United States

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