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Chester Payne

Obituary Condolences

Family-Placed Death Notice

PAYNE, Chester Chester "Chet" B. Payne Long-time Big Canoe resident Chester "Chet" B. Payne passed away September 27, 2010 after a long and valiant battle against cancer. Chet, a Virginia native and a University of Virginia graduate, was a nationally recognized expert in the aeronautical engineering industry. He married the love of his life, Jean Lee Payne," on August 16, 1950. Chet began his career with NASA at Langley Field in 1950 testing gust loads and autopilot response. He then worked for Martin Aircraft Company testing aircraft including P-6Ms and B-57s before moving on to Lockheed where he was Division Manager for Flight Testing. He was involved with the testing of numerous aircraft including the C-5A, many versions of the C-130, the Lockheed Jetstar and the vaunted F-22s. During his years in the industry, his work took him to over 100 military bases carrying out his test flight assignments. He participated directly in the flight of the latest aircrafts, often serving as flight crew member and test flight engineer. In 1974, he was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the Air Force Systems Command for the successful launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile form a C-5A. Chet is the 1985 recipient of the Kelly Johnson Annual Award for excellence in service given by the Society for Flight Test Engineers. It is on display in the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. While Chet enjoyed a distinguished career, he was a gentle and unassuming man who never sought attention for himself. Chet Payne retired from Lockheed in 1991; however, his career did not end there. After Chet and Jean built a home in Big Canoe on a mountain lake, where she was the designer and general contractor, Chet was called on often as a consultant through his own private company. Jean traveled with him on many assignments. However, Chet was also became a valued member of the multi-denominational Big Canoe Chapel, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees and as Chairman of that Board. He was a long-time member of the Prevent Child Abuse Pickens Board of Directors and he served on many community and church committees and boards. Much of Chet's work as a consultant was classified, but it is correct to say that his help was requested from the Pentagon and even from the CIA. After Chet became too ill to travel, agencies sent representatives to his Big Canoe home to seek his advice and expertise. In an article in 2002, Chet laughed about the time when he needed to get flight qualified for a C-130 flight testing assignment from the Pentagon. He was 76 years old and showed up at the Flight Surgeon's office at Wright-Patterson AFB one morning. He was in line with young men with cropped haircuts. When it was his turn, the doctor looked at Chet, did a double-take, and asked, "What do you want?" Chet handed him his orders and said, "I want a flight certificate." "How old are you?" the doctor asked. "What difference does that make?" Chet responded. "Well, none - I just want to tell my wife about this," the doctor said. "But tell me - how many medications are you taking?" Chet said, "One baby aspirin a day." "Carry on!" the doctor told him. In addition to Jean, his wife of 60 years, Chet Payne is survived by three daughters: Jennifer Forster, Jill Dunlap and Starr Lindsey and her husband Mark; grandchildren: Mary Shertenlieb, Amanda Forster, John Dunlap, Harry Forster III, Payne Lindsey, Banks Lovett, Chesler Lindsey and Mason Lindsey and great-grandchildren: Henry Chester Shertenlieb and Maxwell Gary Shertenlieb. Two siblings also survive: Amanda Hall of Scottsville, Virginia and Randolph Payne of Arlington, Virginia. Many beloved nieces, and a nephew and their dear children and grandchildren also survive. The funeral service is at Big Canoe Chapel on Friday, October 1, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. A memorial reception will follow in the Broyles Community Center. The Reverend Dr. Jimmy R. Allen will officiate and Senator Johnny Isakson, long-time friend of the family, will also deliver a eulogy. There will be no visitation and no interment. Memorial gifts may be made to: Big Canoe Chapel Benevolence Fund, 10455 Big Canoe, Big Canoe, GA 30143.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sept. 30, 2010
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