9 entries | 4 photos
  • "Never will forget our trips exploring the desert when you..."
  • - linda fasano
  • "John was a Bowdoin '63 classmate and DKE fraternity brother..."
  • "My sincerest condolences. I first met Mr. Payson 24 years..."
    - Ken Rush
  • "My sincerest condolences to the family for your loss. God..."
    - Eri
The Guest Book is expired.


John Whitney Payson, art dealer, philanthropist, and advocate of civic causes, died unexpectedly Sunday, October 16th. He was 76 years old. In 1972, Mr. Payson founded Hobe Sound Galleries, showcasing Maine artists such as Bernard Langlais, Tom Crotty, and Dahlov Ipcar. In 1985, he acquired Midtown Galleries in Manhattan, where he inspired Jacob Lawrence, Jack Levine, and the Walt Kuhn estate to join Midtown Payson's esteemed stable of artists including Paul Cadmus, Isabel Bishop, and William Thon, among others. Mr. Payson attended Bowdoin College and received a B.A. from Pepperdine University in 1966. Later, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the Maine College of Arts, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws at Pepperdine University. He followed his family's tradition of philanthropy. His mother, Joan Whitney Payson, founder of the New York Mets, bequeathed part of her art collection to Mr. Payson upon her death in 1975. Mr. Payson in turn, donated significant works, such as Renoir's Confidences and Prendergast's Rhododendrons: Boston Public Gardens to the Portland Museum of Art. In 1987, he sold Van Gogh's Irises, allowing him to establish the Joan Whitney and Charles Shipman Payson Charitable Foundation. The Foundation gave support to many institutions, including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. John Payson's interest in the arts led him to serve on a number boards, including the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Williamstown, MA; and the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts at the Kennedy Center. He was involved with the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture for many years, and he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1988. In Florida, Mr. Payson was a fierce advocate for the arts. Previously, he served on the Board of Governors of the Florida ArtsPAC and was a Member and Vice Chair of the Florida Arts Council. In 2014, Secretary of State Ken Detzner appointed Mr. Payson Ambassador for Florida Arts. Recently, Mr. Payson was a member of the Jupiter Island Arts Council and Vice Chair of Citizens for Florida Arts. He was also the principal organizer of the conference, Convening Culture 2014, Connecting the Arts with Environmental Conservation. He enjoyed wing shooting, fishing, sailing, and motorsports. He has lived on Jupiter Island for forty-five years; the last thirty-one of which have been with his wife, Joanne D. Payson. In addition to his wife Joanne, Mr. Payson is survived by Joan Whitney Payson, his only daughter with Joanne; and Heather Lee Payson and Charles Sherwood Payson, two children from a prior marriage, and three grandchildren. Mr. Payson is also survived by two sisters, Payne Middleton of New York City and Lorinda de Roulet of Long Island. There will be a funeral service at St. Mary's Church, Falmouth, Maine, Saturday, October 29th. Interment will be private. A Memorial Service is to be held at Christ Church, Jupiter Island, Saturday, November 26, 2016. Donations may be made to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine, or the Martin County Council of the Arts.

Published in The New York Times on Oct. 30, 2016