Lasting legacy of Dr. Gloria Payne brings joy

The smiling face of Dr. Gloria Payne on the front page of The Inter-Mountain Tuesday reminded me of the old saying: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” We think we are living through difficult times now with the pandemic, but Dr. Payne had a smile on her face through good times and bad. Her positive attitude was the daily lesson she taught by her unfailing example.

Dr. Payne was a child during the Great Depression, and her college years must have been difficult during World War II. Troops were training in Elkins and going off to the war. After the war when veterans came to Davis & Elkins College on the GI Bill, Gloria Marquette was not as old as many of them. While she was raising her family, she was constantly going back to graduate school to sustain accreditation standards for the College. Her life was not easy, but she was always cheerful.

I first remember Dr. Payne when she was on the D&E faculty with my mother, Peggy Roberts, in the 1960s. They both traveled many miles seeking to earn graduate degrees, and Mama always respected Gloria’s dedication to the College.

As a locally-grown faculty member, Gloria probably did more than anyone else on the faculty to overcome the “Town & Gown” divide.

She made sure that members of the busi\ess community visited the College, and her students worked in town.

The thing that I admired most about Dr. Payne is that she was always gracious and kind. In this time when people think they can say any cruel thing on Twitter or Facebook, I really value the idea that words still matter.

Finding a kind word is a question of moral duty for parents and teachers who have control over younger people while they are forming their own image of self. Careful word choice is a habit that good parents and teachers like Dr. Payne always cultivate. Kindness and hospitality were the hallmarks of Dr. Payne’s teaching style. KJ Shaffer, Emil Suder,

Nathanial Bonnell, and many other young adults who live and work in Elkins remember her Beta Alpha Beta dinners that took place at Benedum Hall. Anyone who worked with Dr. Payne learned that a smile and a little style can open the hearts and minds of other people.

She knew that good business and good teaching depend on helping others learn to be happier and more effective in life.


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