The Randolph-Macon College community is mourning the loss of Haywood A. “HAP” Payne ’68, who died on Feb. 2, 2023 at the age of 77 in Fullerton, Calif.
Payne was the first African American student to attend RMC, breaking the race barrier in 1966 and ending segregation at the College after 136 years. A transfer student from Virginia Union University, Payne graduated in 1968 with a degree in chemistry and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1977.
“I do not believe I have ever encountered a man with a more positive attitude,” RMC President Robert R. Lindgren said. “He famously signed his emails ‘Carpe Diem’ and he lived just that way – seizing whatever opportunity that came along for him, selflessly, to build someone else up.”
Payne joined Gulf Oil Corporation in 1970 as a systems analysis chemist and remained with the company after it merged with Chevron in 1984. Throughout his career, Payne held several management positions, and in 2010, he retired as president of Chevron Business and Real Estate Services.
Payne supported his alma mater enthusiastically, serving on the Board of Trustees from 1988-2000 and again from 2011-2016. He also served on RMC’s Society of Alumni from 2008-2009 and earned the Society of Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2011.
In 2016, Payne was RMC’s Commencement speaker and received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. In his remarks to the community, he reflected on the choice he made and encouraged the then-graduates to seize their futures. “In retrospect, I made the right decision,” he said. “So did you! I graduated with confidence and faith; RMC prepared me for the ‘next steps.’ Martin Luther King said, ‘Confidence is taking the next step…when you can’t even see the staircase!’ I encourage you to value the education and experiences you enjoyed; never forget from whence you came—or the importance of family support; and remember to give back in order to keep the college extraordinary for those who follow.”
Payne is one of two namesakes (along with former RMC President Dr. C. Ladell Payne) for Payne Hall, which opened in October 2020 and houses the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.