GALLIPOLIS, Ohio —Gallia County native and active community volunteer Jessie Payne will serve as the parade marshal for Monday’s Fourth of July parade through downtown Gallipolis.
The parade begins at 7 p.m. Monday during Gallipolis’ annual River Recreation Festival.
Payne, of Rio Grande, was the recipient of the 2016 Bud and Donna McGhee Community Service Award given out each year by the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce earlier this year. Each year, the winner of this award is honored as parade marshal.
Payne was born and raised in Gallia County, graduated from Cadmus High School, and then attended the University of Rio Grande, where she studied law. Born in a log cabin, located on Symms Creek, she was the youngest of eight children, with four older brothers and three older sisters.
There were a number of cherished family activities she enjoyed as a child, such as gathering in the living room for Bible study each evening after dinner. Payne said that is how she learned to read at an early age — because each of the children had to read from the Bible, with the whole family listening.
Sunday was a special day, she said, attending Sunday School and church, then going home to a meal of fried chicken. It was the custom to feed the pastor and his family on Sundays. It was well known they went to her family’s household as their choice, and would get the best pieces of chicken. As she told friends, “You were lucky if you got a wing.” Payne makes it clear, the Lord was always in her family’s home.
Another precious memory from her childhood was going to the Emancipation Celebration at Bush Park, between Bidwell and Porter. Her father would borrow horses from a neighbor, put straw in the bed of the wagon for the children to sit on; her mother would fix a basket of food and when they arrived, everyone would put their dinners together and share the meal.
Payne began to volunteer at Holzer Medical Center in 1973 and continues to do so. Holzer is not the only organization to which she gives her time to as a valued volunteer. She also assists Community Action, Serenity House, the Black History Board, the Emancipation Celebration, the Gallia County Economic Development Association, and the Gallia County NAACP.
Payne also serves as Sunday School superintendent at Corinth Baptist Church in Oak Hill. In the 2010 Christmas parade, she also served as parade marshal.
She and her late husband, Mike, have two daughters: Carolyn Casey and Sharon Winston; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Her life reflects her parents wish to give back to the community and she remembers what her father often said: “This is the day that the Lord has made and He will always be smiling down on us.”