Kathryn Breslauer Payne

Kathryn Payne onlineBorn on December 22, 1933; died on January 9, 2021

Kathryn, aka Kay, attended Grant Grammar School and Lowell High School in San Francisco.

She attended the University of California in Berkeley, getting a BA in Education, and one lecture in Art History that later led to over 35 years of Art Docent volunteer activities, which were the enjoyable foci of most of her adult life.

She taught 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades in Berkeley, San Francisco and Long Island, New York. She didn’t like teaching and returned to Berkeley. And through common friends met Roland Payne, who had recently come back from the East Coast and was teaching mathematics in the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Six months later she married LTjg Payne in the Navy Chapel on Treasure Island and they moved to Monterey. They started a family. 

Kay enjoyed teaching and helping the sons, David and Stephen, in all the things young boys learn to do. She helped set the tone of their life with them. She was not a swimmer but spent a lot of hours driving the boys to Fremont Hills Country Club (FHCC) for swim practice each day, and to be a timer at every swim meet with other clubs. Touch pads were not yet available, so it took three timers with stopwatches at each lane. Eight lanes were used in the meets. A lot of volunteer parents were required. Both David and Stephen were good swimmers and joined an AAU swim team. This team practiced twice a day: early morning and late afternoon. Swim meets were on weekends, on Saturday and Sunday, often in another town a few driving hours away. Kay was often the driver and a timer. She did not complain to the boys or others.

Third son Michael was born in 1974. Michael did not swim but did play baseball and soccer. Much less parental volunteer time was required. But Kay did earn the title, Soccer Mom.

Kay also did several community centered volunteer projects for both Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. One was to help get an old two story farmhouse and tractor shed to be recognized as a Los Altos historical site and find someone to live in it. A fireman and family moved in and took good care of it. Tours became available.

She was recognized by Los Altos Hills because she and other docents she recruited gave art docent lectures at the Los Altos City Hall.

One year Los Altos and Los Altos Hills presented her with their joint-city Volunteer of the Year award.

In 1982 Michael entered the second grade and Kay thought I can now get into things interesting to me personally – ART. She and five other Los Altos ladies started the Art Docent Program for Los Altos Elementary school. It is still an active program appreciated by students, teachers, and parents. In short, a success. An important aside: The Leo Club (each docent or her spouse was born under the Leo Sign) was formed for social activities held a few times a year, another success.

But the real highlight of her art associated life for the next 35 years was being a docent for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco comprised of the DeYoung and the Legion of Honor. Diane Willsey, President, Board of Trustees, presented Kay with the 2012 McNeil Volunteer Recognition Award, and listed nine of Kay’s achievements. 

One is that Kay has dramatically expanded the Community Speakers Program and she now manages 20 docents who offered well over 400 lectures to more than 13,000 individuals last year. Willsey mentioned that that is more exposure to the museums than by any other organization. 

Kay really liked doing all the things she did for FAMSF and the other docents there. 

But in all respects she was really an all-around good lady. Her love of her husband, Roland Payne; sons and daughters-in law, David Payne (Mary Smathers), Stephen Payne (Laura Payne), and Michael Payne (ex- Samantha Salvia).   Each of those couples have produced two grandchildren for Kay: Sarah and Dwight, Monika and Kevin, and Rylan and Spencer. Monika is scheduled to have a baby  girl as this notice is being finished: a great-granddaughter. And this is a great way to complete this obituary: Kay’s life does go on!

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