I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 7-8)
Martin Arthur Payne, 38, of Hurricane, entered into eternal rest on Monday, July 12, 2021 while enjoying his passion for swimming. Although he was an experienced swimmer, he fell victim to a phenomenon called shallow water blackout which tragically and quickly led to unintentional drowning. We encourage each of you to visit www.shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org to educate yourself and your loved ones, as this can affect even the most advanced swimmers.
Born July 11, 1983, Martin was cherished for his vivacious, funny, and cheerful personality. This spunk attracted many friends, and teachers and coaches often commented that he was a pleasure to instruct. His parents echo that same sentiment; he was a delight to raise in his early years. Additionally, Martin was a very bright student, earning accolades in county and regional Math Field Day contests and participating in the local gifted art program. As a child, he had a variety of athletic interests, notably Taekwondo, basketball, and golf. Though Martin was initially placed into karate at an early age to increase his physical strength and toughness given his small size, he also gained a strong sense of discipline that he would carry with him throughout the remainder of his life. He quickly progressed through the belt levels, ultimately attaining a brown belt status. During this period, he won the 1990 8 and Under State Championship in kumite, the trophy from which was taller than he. In elementary school, Martin was selected by Coach Greg White to participate in the basketball handling talent group known as White’s Wizards; one of the highlights of this experience was performing during half time at the annual Marshall vs WVU basketball game at the Charleston Civic Center. He spent many summers thereafter playing in AAU and YBOA basketball tournaments. In total, he was on three state championship teams, the latter of which his dad coached. On the golf course, Martin participated in the Top Flight Junior Tour series. One of his greatest golf accomplishments was winning the West Virginia Golf Association’s Junior Amateur 12 and Under State Championship at the age of 11 in a playoff at Glade Springs. What takes many golfers a lifetime to achieve, he had the remarkable feat of scoring not one but two hole-in-ones, the first of which was witnessed by his parents.
Martin was a graduate of Hurricane High School (Class of 2002), where he was remembered by his classmates and teachers as being a friend to all with a kind and gentle heart. In addition to lettering in 4 sports—basketball, golf, soccer, and cross country, Martin continued his academic legacy during secondary school. He was inducted into Mu Alpha Theta, and received a Promise Scholarship. He also participated in many extracurricular clubs, including Key Club and Teenage Republicans. All of these achievements helped to earn him nominations for the Most Valuable Redskin award as well as the Wendy’s High School Heisman award for student-athletes.
Martin’s life path that had seemed so promising was abruptly altered during his late teenage years, when he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Between the progression of the disease itself and the medicines required to control it, there was a vast change in his personality, intellect, and physical abilities. Independent living and many other life goals became unattainable, and family support became essential to his stability. As a family, we grieved the cruel tragedy that he had lost his then-life to this devastating mental illness, and much of his life thereafter was defined by the quiet suffering from its unending grip and persistent ups and downs.
But, there was light in the darkness. In his young 20s, Martin accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and became a member of First Baptist Church of Hurricane. There, he found joy in serving as an usher and assistant basketball coach for the Upward Basketball youth program. It was during this time that the YMCA became an essential outlet for physical fitness. He found a new passion for aquatics, and could be seen almost daily swimming laps in the pool. He shared this same sentiment for the beach. Our family holds many fond memories of annual vacations during which he would most often be seen boogie boarding, jumping waves, swimming the shoreline, building sandcastles with his nieces and nephew, and playing beach games such as skipping mega ball with his dad.
In more recent years, Martin was treasured in his role as uncle, where seldom seen glimpses of his previous personality would pierce through the devastating effects of his mental illness. He was always welcomed with much enthusiasm during visits with his nieces and nephew, because he would happily spend hours coloring, playing hide and go seek, making crafts, playing video games, and participating in a variety of sports. It was this patience and attention to their whims and wishes that gained him the title of Funcle (fun uncle) Martin.
Our family would like to extend our sincere appreciation to owner, Greg Darby, and the employees of Little General, where Martin was employed. Their dedication to providing him with meaningful employment and steadfast acceptance of his limitations provided him (and us) with a valuable sense of respect and dignity. We would also like to thank Doctors Fink, Stephen Durrenberger (who developed the medicine combination that provided him with the most stability), and John Hutton for the compassionate care, expertise, and guidance they provided, which allowed Martin the best quality of life possible.
Martin was preceded in death by his grandparents, Ruth and Harold Vessey and Catherine and Raymond Payne; aunt, Joyce Vessey Swanson; and uncles, Terrance Lively, Sr. and Charles Harrison.
Those left to cherish and honor his memory include his parents, Phyllis and Harold; sister, Grace (Justin) Dixon; nieces and nephew, Mary Payne, Blythe, and Hayden; aunts and uncles, Adele (Charles Jaeger III) Vessey, Nancy Lively, Calvin Swanson, and Cathy (Stephen) Fox; cousins, Pedro (Stacie) Dejneka, Brandon (Alicia) Vessey, Terrance Lively, Jr., Charlotte (Chris) Renner, Julie (Jonathan) Hiatt, Stephanie (Michael) Page, and many extended family members.
Martin’s final act which embodied his belief in eternal life was the gift of organ and tissue donation. He will also contribute to the body of science regarding schizophrenia and other similar mental illnesses through a posthumous study with the Center for Organ Recovery & Education and the University of Pittsburgh.
An intimate family memorial service will be held on Tuesday, July 20, at First Baptist Church of Hurricane.
In lieu of flowers, our family requests that donations be sent to Tri-County YMCA in Scott Depot, or the First Tee of West Virginia/West Virginia Golf Association.
While we are heartbroken and will miss him tremendously during the remainder of our time here on this earth, we do find great comfort in knowing that he is whole again and no longer suffering as he had for so long and that we will be reunited again one day.