Payne’s woodworking shows seniors someone cares


Wayne A. Payne looked at the five big pieces of wood in his storage room and thought “what am I going to do with these?”

He should have known that the Culpeper Senior Center would find a use for them.

The five large pieces of wood, originally milled in 1933 for his father, now hang at the Senior Center with the names of almost 500 donors who helped make the recent renovations at the center possible.

Payne sanded and finished the wood and then made a template to put all the donor name tags on the plaque.

A long time woodworker, Payne has a full workshop in basement where he churns out walking sticks and palm crosses made out of oak, cherry, walnut, chestnut, cedar or whatever wood he can find.

“I used to make doll houses all the time,” Payne said. “It took three years to make those, so I got away from that. Someone gave me a palm cross one day and I thought it would be a good thing to do.”

A member of the Oak Shade United Methodist Church Men’s group, he estimates he’s made more than 2,000 palm crosses which have been distributed world-wide. Many of his crosses go to service members who are about to travel overseas.

He’s made more than 150 walking sticks, which he creates by using a broom handle machine at Field Day of the Past in Richmond and then finishes them in his workshop.

He gives all of his creations away, many to the seniors he sees at the Culpeper Senior Center.

“The smile they give you and the thank you, makes you warm all over,” Payne said.

Gladys Williams, director at the senior center, said that her seniors love when Payne comes and appreciate his work.

“He’s done a lot for the seniors,” Gladys Williams said.

The UMC Men run errands for Williams and donate their time to grilling meals for the seniors. It just made sense, then, for Payne to donate the wood needed for the donor plaques.

“I didn’t have any use for it,” Payne said. “I was trying to figure out what to do with it and Miss Gladys said about needing a spot for 300-400 names. I said that would be a good spot for that plaque.”

Payne made a template for the name tags and then taped them onto the wood plaques.

He said the woodworking helps keep him busy. His wife Faye passed away in 2014 and the woodworking hobby allows him to pass the time.

“It gives me something to do,” Payne said. “It’s almost as easy to make 50 of those palm crosses as it is 8-10.”

Payne, who will be 78 next month, said that he enjoys being able to help the seniors.

“Just to see them treated like human beings,” Payne said. “These people appreciate it a lot.”

For Williams, she knows she can count on the Oak Shade men for anything she may need.

“I do not know what I’d do without all of those guys,” Williams said. “They’re just wonderful.”

Williams said the seniors appreciated the plaques and comment on the workmanship all the time.

“They love it,” Williams said. “It makes them feel special, knowing someone really cares.”

About Jeff Say 253 Articles
Jeff Say is the editor for the Culpeper Times. He can be reached at