Frederick Payne

Frederick Payne

CHAMPAIGN — It is with broken hearts to say that we lost the love of our lives, Frederick "Fred" E. Payne, on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, at 3 a.m. at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center, Urbana.

Private services will be held at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm St., Champaign, with the Rev. Tom Hillertz officiating. Entombment will be in Mount Hope Mausoleum.

He was born Nov. 8, 1921, at home in London Mills, Ill., a son of Floyd and Angie (Essex) Payne. Weighing only 3 pounds, he was kept in a shoebox in a warming oven — only one of the reasons we call him our “miracle man.”

He graduated in 1940 from Abingdon High School, where he played football and basketball, being our “star guard,” making 3-point shots before they existed.

He started working for Illinois Bell in 1941 and enlisted in the Army in 1942 as a teletype technician. After being honorably discharged, he went back to Illinois Bell, working there for 37 years, retiring in December 1977.

He was married 73 years to the love of his life, Virginia Sieling, on May 6, 1945. She survives, along with the second love of his life, daughter and caregiver, Linda Payne, both of Champaign.

He was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings.

While at Illinois Bell, he volunteered with the Telephone Pioneers, making roll-around carts covered with carpet for disabled children. He worked at the Assembly Hall, starting in 1964 as a gateman, later becoming gateman supervisor for 32 years. While working there, he also worked for the University of Illinois Athletic Association ticket office, starting in 1978 for 13 years.

He then worked for the Assembly Hall ticket office, was an election judge and was auditor for the Champaign County Fair Association for many years, all while being the best Daddy and husband ever, making a loving home, building additions to our home himself and keeping the yard immaculate.

Then in 2002, Fred was paralyzed from the neck down and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. But by the grace of God and for His hearing so many prayers from all across the United States, plus Fred’s strong will and determination, he recovered 99 percent with only residual effects.

He was a member of the Telephone Pioneers and past president of Illinois Bell Credit Union. Fred was a Boy Scout leader, member of the C-U Elks Lodge and Eagles Lodge and a lifetime member of the American Legion, being presented with a 70-year certificate in March 2017.

He was a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Champaign for over 50 years, being president of council numerous times. He was a blood donor, giving over 40-plus pints.

Fred was an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Fighting Illini. He loved bowling, basketball, football, golf, being outside, waking up early to watch the sun rise, feeding and watching the birds, and watching and counting jet trails in the sky. He loved building and fixing things, loved to tease, joke, talk, tell stories, and especially smile, laugh and have fun. Being a religious man, he had a loving heart for his Lord and Savior, and most of all, loved his girls, dancing and a good Manhattan!

Fred loved life, making the most of every day, was always a fighter in whatever challenge he faced, and tried so hard to always do his best.

He was always giving, loving, truthful, caring, sweet, kind and funny, as well as wise in so many ways, being a true gentleman, saying “always ladies first.”

He was proud to be 96 and all that he did in life. He was our hero, protector and best friend. We always have been and always will be so proud of him. He was so special.

God blessed us with the best husband, father, uncle and friend, leaving us with a lifetime of fun and fabulous memories.

Fred will be forever missed and always remembered with love.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the Champaign County Humane Society for his love of dogs, and to the family to be sent to the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Foundation.

Condolences to the family may be offered online at

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