January 19, 1935 - June 5, 2013
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A true renaissance man, he was equally at home in a newsroom, classroom or boardroom.
William R. Payden died Wednesday, June 5 at his Santa Monica home in the company of his family.
A lifetime of intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm led Mr. Payden to his wide ranging varied interests in music, cinema, sports, philanthropy, and aviation.
Mr. Payden was born in Port Chester, N.Y. Jan 19, 1935 the son of Joseph and Mary R. Payden. The family lived in Jakarta, Indonesia while his father represented Union Carbide Corp. in Southeast Asia. Mr. Payden had been around the world twice by the time he was seven years old.
The family returned to New York where Mr. Payden attended elementary and high school. His interest in the performing arts began at an early age as he was writing film and radio scripts for his own enjoyment at the age of 10.
He attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated as a journalism major from the University of Colorado. He later made a major gift to the university to fund an endowment for Teaching Excellence in Journalism. "I thought, wouldn't it be nice to present an award for teaching excellence. That's an area that is sometimes overlooked," he said.
Following graduation, Mr. Payden was a reporter and feature writer for the Mamaroneck, N.Y. Daily News. He came to Southern California in 1959 and first worked in public relations for Douglas Aircraft Corp. Subsequently, he was among the first civilian public relations coordinators for the Los Angeles Police Department. He also was a public relations associate with a world wide architectural firm, and public relations director for the San Fernando Valley Board of Realtors.
After receiving a master's degree in American studies from California State University Los Angeles, Mr. Payden's career turned to education. He was a journalism professor at Los Angeles Valley College and Chair of the media arts department of LAVC. Mr. Payden is co-author of "Observations on Mass Media." After retiring from college teaching in 1990, he founded the consulting firm of The Reynolds Communications Group in Santa Monica.
A pianist, he has recorded three CDs. His home is a virtual small museum, housing his collection of sports memorabilia, aviation and an extensive film library. Mr. Payden also maintained a collection of classic automobiles.
His memberships include the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Society of Professional Journalists and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society. He was an officer of two private foundations to benefit educational and vocational programs.
He is survived by his sister, Joan A. Payden, of Santa Monica.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday, June 10, at 11:00AM at St. Sebastian Church in West Los Angeles. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Los Angeles.
Donations in his memory can be made to Doctors without Borders or LA Missions.
Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors-Santa Monica.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 7, 2013