Thomas C. Payne Sr.
On December 27, 2022, our family lost our anchor to cancer that was diagnosed just a few short months ago. Thomas Carlisle Payne was born on April 5, 1928 in Bozeman, MT to Ross and Myrtle Payne. While still in high school during the summers of 1943 and 1944, Tom worked in the Seattle shipyards building Fletcher Class Destroyers. This was the catalyst for him to join the Navy right after high school. In early 1945, Tom enlisted in the Navy at 17 years old where he served on the USS Arenac, USS Wisconsin, and the USS Dayton as a signalman during WWII. His time in the Navy took him to Japan, the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, and North Sea. After he completed his service obligations in 1949, he went to work for the Northern Pacific Railroad in Livingston, MT. While Tom was working in Livingston, he met a beautiful young lady from Bozeman named Shirley Bridges, and they were married January 26, 1951 in Butte, MT.
Tom spent 40 years with the Northern Pacific Railroad, and he retired as a locomotive engineer in 1989; also, Tom was the fireman on the last regular run of a steam locomotive to depart from Livingston. Tom and Shirley raised 3 children Tom Jr., Doug, and Peggy in Livingston and lived there until earlier this year when they sold their home and moved to Helena. Tom lived his life with the tenets of always use of common sense and treat others with respect. He loved sports of all kinds, particularly basketball. He was the first sophomore to become an All-State Basketball player in Montana, and he was a great football quarterback for Gallatin Hawks as well.
Tom’s support of his family and their endeavors never wavered. He supported Doug when he competed in running races in the 1990s. Tom and Shirley visited Peg in England, and they visited Tom Jr. in Scotland and Malaysia. Tom and Shirley attended some of their granddaughter’s swim meets on the East Coast while she was attending West Point until he and Shirley could no longer travel. When Shirley’s mother could no longer live on her own, Tom made accommodations for her to live with the family.
His influence instilled work ethic, the importance of education, and a love of athletics in his children. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He truly lived life to the fullest, and he never faltered in his positive outlook on life. He will be dearly missed.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 72 years Shirley of Helena, MT; son Tom Payne Jr. and daughter-in-law Cheryl Payne of Bakersfield, CA; son Doug Payne of Helena, MT; daughter Peggy O’Neil and son-in-law Steve O’Neil of Bozeman, MT; granddaughter Corri Hastings, grandson-in-law Mitch Hastings, and great granddaughter Amelia Hastings of Port Orchard, WA.
A celebration of life service will be held in the summer of 2023 at Fort Harrison in Helena, Montana where he will be interned. If you wish to make a donation, please consider planting a tree in his name at the Flathead National Forest through the treesremember.com.
Special thanks to the St Peter’s Hospital, the staff at Touchmark, St. Peter’s Hospice, the Sapphire Staff at Touchmark, hospice nurse Kourtney Fisher, caregiver Marie Lavinder, Kim Longmire-Reinhardt, and Belle Dailey.