John was born to Luther Henry Payne and Alma (St John) in Sayre, OK and raised in Frisco, TX. He graduated from Pilot Point High School in Pilot Point, TX in 1948 where he became an All-American football player. His athletic prowess garnered hi m a football scholarship at Texas University where he played for a short time until family obligations called him home.
In 1949, John enlisted in the in the US Air Force and served as a powerman. John was released from service in 1950 after transferring to the US Air Force Reserve.
He held various jobs after his military tenure including highway and pipeline construction and eventually becoming involved in the horse industry. Working for the BF Phillips Ranch in Pilot Point, TX gave John the opportunity to travel the United States fitting and showing horses and gathering material for his famous stories and his moniker and reputation as “Big John”. John made many friends along the way and could remember names, places, and dates like no other.
Some of John’s best stories came from his time as a horse wrangler for the movies and the Ranchero Vistadores organization in California where he settled for a good part of his life. He began a horse hauling business that also took him across the US where he made more friends.
John eventually made his way to Oklahoma when Remington Park opened in 1988 and where he met Patsy, his beloved wife of 25 ½ years. On October 23, 1989, they “jumped the broomstick” at Mineral Wells Park in Guthrie, OK. John continued his work in the horse industry at Remington Park for several years then at the Lazy E Training Center. John was a lifetime member of the AQHA.
After retiring in 1995, John remained active tending his garden, keeping up their property, and getting to know his grandchildren.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Luther and Alma Payne, sister 1st Lt USA (P) Marion Lane and her husband Lt General USAF (Ret) Mac Lane, and his beloved wife, Patsy Davenport Payne.
John is survived by nephews; Col USA (Ret) Skip Lane (Peggy) and John Lane (Linda); great-nephews Matthew and Michael Lane; great-nieces, Sarah Thompson (Brian) their children, Zachariah, Selah, and Asher; Adrian Fettke (Doug) their children, Lane, Luke, and Lauren; and Katy Hoyt (USA Major Nathan); daughter Rhonda Roberts (Jim); daughter Shelley Starns,
Granddaughters, Haley Estes, and McKenzie Starns; grandsons Cooper and Walker Cross; great-grandchildren, Carson Starns and Jaquelin Estes and many good and loving friends.
Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at Matthews Funeral Home, Chapel with interment at Little Elm Cemetery, Frisco, Texas at 3:30 p.m.
A viewing will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 21, 2015. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 21, 2015 at Matthews Funeral Home Chapel with burial to follow at 3:30 p.m. at Little Elm Cemetery in Little Elm, TX. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the RTCA Remington Park Cowboy Church.