By Gary Lloyd
Longtime Trussville historical supporter Venie Payne died Wednesday.
She was 91.
Payne served on the original Trussville Historical Society, the Trussville Historical Board in late 2006 and was instrumental in forming the new Trussville Historical Society in 2007.
Donnette Plant knew Payne since 1998
. Payne got Plant started in the Trussville Historical Society in January 2007. Payne introduced Plant to Trussville residents she didn’t know, and showed her places and things she didn’t know existed in Trussville for a history of Trussville book that came out in 2008.
“It was amazing just riding with her,” Plant said. “She’d be telling me stuff while we were riding.”
Payne led the Trussville Historical Board in developing a memorial in Trussville’s Civitan Park to honor all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Her late husband, H.B. Payne, served in World War II as a sergeant in the 276th Combat Engineers in the European Theater of War. He was wounded in combat on the Bridge at Remagen and was discharged in 1945. He later received the Presidential Unit Citation and a Purple Heart. The names are being added to the monument, which is awaiting a formal dedication as soon as the greenways project is completed. Payne was also president of the Daughters of the Confederacy.
Trussville Mayor Gene Melton, a first cousin of Payne’s, said he is “apologetic” that the veterans memorial wasn’t completed before she died. He said the city did all it could in the time it has had to accomplish that.
“She spearheaded that (project),” Melton said, noting that when the memorial is dedicated Payne will be honored in some way. “She was a great civic leader for the community.”
Plant said when Payne told her about the idea for the memorial, she thought it wouldn’t happen. Payne was in her late 80s when she came up with the idea.
“I thought there was no way she was going to be able to get that done, but it’s down there in the park right now,” Plant said.
Payne won the individual Gatekeeper award for her service to the city of Trussville at last week’s Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet. Payne went into the hospital a day prior, leaving her unable to attend. Plant nominated Payne for the award and said she did find out she had won before she died.
“I wanted her to know how much all of us thought of her and how thankful we were as a city to her,” Plant said.
Visitation and funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church of Trussville on Saturday, with visitation at noon until 2 p.m. and funeral services at 2 p.m. Read Payne’s full obituary here.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.