In Memory of




Obituary for Richard Newton Payne

Dr. Richard Newton Payne was a Professor Emeritus of Horticulture at Oklahoma State University. He died May 12, 2023 surrounded by loved ones. A graveside service will be held at Fairlawn Cemetery on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. with Mr. Paul Jones officiating. Services are under the direction of Strode Funeral Home.

Payne was born January 12, 1929 in Abilene, TX to Hugh Sr. and Myrtle (Newton) Payne. He was married to Norma Ritch on June 4, 1966, in Tahlequah, OK. They were happily married for 56 years.

He attended Whittier grade school in Oklahoma City, and from the sixth grade through high school, attended Putnam City schools, graduating from Putnam City High School with his good friends in the class of 1946. Payne received a B.S. degree in Horticulture from Oklahoma A&M College in 1950 and later received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Floriculture from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army in October, 1950 and served 2 years active duty, taking basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and later serving 16 months in Germany with the Fourth Infantry Division. He was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in October, 1952. After his Army service, he was a Horticulture instructor at Oklahoma A&M and was a graduate research student at Ohio State. He was employed at Furrow & Co. Wholesale greenhouses, Guthrie, OK from 1955-1957. He served as a faculty member in the Dept. of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University, from 1957-1987. Among his honors and awards were the L.M. Ware Teaching Award, Southern Region, American Society for Horticultural Science; with Richerd Kerbo, the Kenneth Post Research Award, A.S.H.S.; Grower of the Year Award, Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers Association; Distinguished Graduate Award, Dept. of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, OSU; and the G. Vaclavek Distinguished Service Medal, Oklahoma Horticultural Society. His legacy continues at Oklahoma State University through the T. Boone Pickens Endowed Scholarship on Greenhouse Management. He was a member of University Heights Baptist Church, Stillwater, where he had served at various times as a member of several church committees, as a Deacon and as a children's Sunday School and Training Union teacher.

Richard deeply cherished the love of his family and friends, and was immensely thankful to God for the many blessings he received throughout his life. During his life, he enjoyed working in the yard, watching Oklahoma State University sports, and spending time with family and friends. Those who knew him always commented on his gentle, humble spirit and his strong, abiding faith. He loved serving others, and always put the needs and wishes of others before his own. During his final years, he loved spending time with Norma and other family members, and he especially enjoyed connections with former professional colleagues and students.

Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to University Heights Baptist Church, 323 S. Knoblock, Stillwater, OK (Bldg. & Grounds Committee, Landscape Plants fund); Richard Payne Endowed Scholarship for students in Greenhouse Management/Floriculture, OSU, Fund #21-64800, OSU Foundation, 400 S. Monroe, Stillwater, OK 74078; Okla. City Community Foundation (designated for the Okla. Horticultural Society, OSU scholarships) P.O. Box 1146, Okla. City, OK 73101-1146; or the Okla. Medical Research Foundation, 825 N.E. 13th, Okla. City, OK, 73104.

Survivors include his wife, Norma Payne, of Stillwater and his daughter, Dr. Suzanne (Payne) Newell and son-in-law, Miles Newell, of Dallas; granddaughters Mallory Newell and Avery Newell of Texas; sisters-in-law Margie M. Ballew (Jack) of Jacksonville, FL and Carmen Ritch (Lowell Eugene) of Tahlequah, OK; and many loving nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents, Hugh and Myrtle (Newton), Oklahoma City and older brother, Hugh Jr. of Lawton, OK.