We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at East Chapel
The journey on earth began for Esther Lenora Payne on July 18, 1935, in Wilmington, VA located in Fluvanna County. Esther was born to the late James Vivian Payne and Louise Franklin Payne. Esther was the youngest of the 16 siblings in this blessed and loving family. After a full and productive life of faith in God and love for family and friends, Esther entered into eternal rest on Sunday, June 19 at 5:25 pm at the Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, VA.
At an early age, Esther accepted Christ and joined the Evergreen Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late Reverend William J. Kerr. She attended Sunday School and sang in the choir. Her early schooling was in the public schools in Fluvanna in Wilmington, VA and Palmyra, VA. After graduating from S.C. Abrams High School and made her home with her brother Thomas Payne in Richmond, VA.
After completing high school and moving to Richmond, VA Esther enrolled in Virginia Union University. In 1958 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She enrolled in post-graduate studies at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA but family obligations precluded her from completing her post-graduate education.
She began her teaching career in 1958 in the Fluvanna County Public School system. Teaching was her passion and excellence was her philosophy. She extended discipline and love in everything she did, from raising her own daughter to every student she taught making sure that all reached their full potential. She loved the Lord, her family, her church, the Senior Ministry, and her students. Esther retired after 33 years of service to Goochland County Public Schools and the public schools of Fluvanna and Charles City County. In 1999 she was inducted into the Goochland Teacher Hall of Fame for her dedicated service as an educator in the Goochland County Public School System. She also had the honor of being selected as head teacher at Cardwell Elementary School by Dr. Irvin Driscoll and was a member of the retired teachers of Goochland.
Although a member of Triumphant Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, Esther enjoyed Christian fellowship with Springfield Baptist Church and St. Peter Baptist Church where she attended the Bible study group and was a member of the Senior Ministry where she held the position of Chaplain for many years.
Esther was also active in the community where she served as an election official for Henrico County for many years. She also enjoyed attending water aerobics at the local YMCA. As an adult, Esther joined the graduate chapter of the Iota Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated.
Esther was a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt to a number of nieces, nephews and other family members.
Esther was preceded in death by her parents, James Vivian, and Louise Payne, five brothers and ten sisters. She leaves a legacy of life and memory to her loving and devoted husband of 64 years, Lester Gray Smith, her daughter, Kimberly Smith Jones, her son-in-law, Rev. Dr. Melvin Eric Jones, her grandson, Kyle Eric Jones, and her granddaughter, Lauren Kimberly Jones. She also leaves to celebrate her life her adopted Sister, Priscilla Franklin Fitch; Sisters-in-law, Bertha Holland Payne, Lillian Dickens, Mabel Smith, Mattie Smith, and Joan Albert; Brothers-in-law, Rudolph Smith and Frank Smith; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, the Senior Ministry of St. Peter Baptist Church, and other relatives and friends.
“Great is thy faithfulness. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
A funeral service will be held 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at Wilson & Associates' Funeral Service - East Chapel, 5008 Nine Mile Rd., Richmond, VA., where a viewing will be held one hour prior to the service.
Interment will follow service at Roselawn Memory Gardens.
The family has entrusted final arrangements to Wilson & Associates Funeral Service - East Chapel, 5008 Nine Mile Road, Richmond, VA.