Elizabeth Read (Libby) Payne

Elizabeth Read Payne (Libby) was born in 1938, the 2nd daughter of Gordon Allen and Emma Read Payne of Owensboro, Kentucky.

She and her older sister, Adelaide, grew up in a small house in Owensboro and attended grade and high schools there.   Adelaide married a young Baptist minister at the age of 17, and they lived in Owensboro for much of their lives, although they spent several years in Israel.   They had 4 children, two boys and two girls.

Gordon Payne worked for the railroad, and the family was able to travel on trains for free.

Libby's mother worked as a secretary for the local Girls Scouts, and Libby was able to travel each summer on long "trip camps" that were sponsored by the troop.   Libby saw much of the United States this way (the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, etc.), places her family couldn't have otherwise visited.

An important factor in Libby's youth was her learning to sew.   The family couldn't afford many clothes for their daughters, and Libby's height precluded "off the rack" clothing.   In Junior High, Libby took "Home Ec" sewing classes and became an accomplished seamstress...out of necessity.

In fact, Libby always liked nice clothes, and this was the only way she could wear good-looking things.   She maintained her sewing activities for many years, and when Mike met her, her style and grooming were among the many things that attracted him.

The Payne's home in Owensboro
Owensboro High School

In school (Owensboro High School), Libby's special talent was art, and she became "a big fish in a small pond" in Owensboro.   She had friends from the neighborhood, but most of them were Catholics who went to parochial schools.

After graduating from high school, Libby attended Murray State University, a small college in Murray, Kentucky, where she majored in Art.   However, money ran out after 2 years, and she returned to Owensboro.

Murray State University
Murray State University

Libby's childhood was greatly influenced by two things: church and her father's health.   The family attended a local Southern Baptist church, and they strictly followed the religion's tenets: church every Sunday; Prayer Meeting every Wednesday; and no commercial activities (such as movies or swimming at the city pool) on Sunday.   Ultimately, this intense religion caused a backlash from Libby in her later years.

A much bigger impact was the Parkinson's Disease that took her father's life.   He contracted it when she was 6 years old, and he died when she was 15.   The latter stages of this disease were very difficult for the family, and even more challenging after his passing, since Libby's mother didn't drive and had only a menial job.   Adelaide was married and out of the house by then, so it was just Libby and her mother as she finished high school.   Libby had to do much of her father's care as he declined.

She had a small group of neighborhood close friends... [more]


Last Updated: September 5, 2019