February 2008 Issue
Ohioan - Gerald A. Payn, Abraham Lincoln Presenter
AGE: 68 PERSONAL: Born and raised in Lodi, Payn is a retired science teacher and lives in Wooster with wife, Marilyn. Before becoming a teacher, he was a dairy farmer in West Salem.
WHAT HE DOES: He “becomes” Abraham Lincoln in presentations for historical societies, schools and senior citizen and church groups. Payn works to not only portray the 16th president, but also to educate his audiences on Lincoln’s legend and history. HOW IT BEGAN: In 1999, Payn volunteered to play Abe for a Wayne County Historical Society Civil War show. Now he presents Lincoln about 60 times a year.
WHY HE FITS THE PART: “I can grow the whiskers.”
MOST MEMORABLE ABE MOMENT: During one of his presentations, a girl raised her hand almost immediately and thanked Payn for freeing the slaves. “It was very sincere and moving,” Payn reflects.
IN HIS NON-LINCOLN MOMENTS: Payn volunteers with the Smithville Western Retirement Home, Meals on Wheels, the Wayne County Retired Teachers Association and his church. PAYN, ON ABE: “I’m not sure whether ‘falling in love’ with Mr. Lincoln is appropriate…but it is a great honor and privilege to portray such a tremendous gentleman.”