In Memory of




Obituary for Dr. Richard "Richie" Payne

Dr. Richard Payne (Richie) passed away suddenly at his home in Durham, North Carolina, on January 3, 2019, after a brief illness.
Richie was born on August 24, 1951 in Elizabeth, NJ to Clark Emory Payne Sr. and Lois Sykes Payne. He was the ninth born of a family of 14 siblings; 9 sisters and 5 brothers (his eldest sibling, Clarence, passed away in infancy). He was educated in the Elizabeth, NJ public school system, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School, 1969. From very early on, Richie excelled academically and decided he wanted to be a physician.
Richie relied heavily on his “village”, consisting of family, church, school and the community – each played a part in supporting his thirst for knowledge and determination to succeed.
Mt. Teman AME Church, his family’s home church in Elizabeth, NJ, provided not only a base for his spiritual growth, but it provided a place for him to study from his earliest days. He was selected by his high school counselor for a summer program for gifted students in science and math and the local paper rewarded him with a bicycle for his newspaper sales prowess. He was encouraged and supported to achieve his ambitious goals every day by his large, loving family.
Richie received his B.A in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University, 1973 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, 1977. He completed post-graduate training in Medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and in Neurology at New York Presbyterian Hospital, as well as fellowship training in Pharmacology, Neuro-Oncology and Pain Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Richie became an internationally-recognized expert in the areas of pain relief, palliative care, oncology and neurology. He was board certified in Neurology with added certifications in Pain Management and Palliative Medicine. Richie was one of the first faculty to be recruited to Duke University with a dual appointment in Duke Medical School and Duke Divinity School.
While at Duke, Richie served as Faculty Associate of the Trent Center in Bioethics, the program in Theology, Medicine, and Culture and as a member of the Duke Cancer Center. He also served as the Director of the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life from 2004-2012.
Prior to his appointment at Duke and the Center for Practical Bioethics, Richie served as Chief, Pain and Symptom Management Section, Department of Neurology at MD Anderson Cancer Center and subsequently led the Pain and Palliative Care Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York. He was also Professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at Cornell University Weill Medical College.
Through his career, Richard served on numerous boards, presented dozens of endowed lectures, published more than 275 scholarly articles and edited four books. At the time of his death, he served on the Board of Directors of the Hastings Bioethics Center, where he chaired a selection committee for the Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Excellence Awards in End of Life Care. He was a member of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee of the National Institutes of Health.
Although Richie grew to become a distinguished and decorated leader in his fields of expertise, his greatest treasure was his family. Richie LOVED his family; we all knew it and were sustained by that love.
During his studies at Yale University, he met his fellow classmate and life partner, Terrie Reid. Richie and Terrie would be married in 1977 and their union was blessed with two children, Richard Eugene Payne Jr. and Susan Lois Payne, whom Richie cherished. Richie LOVED Terrie. Their marriage, a partnership of 42 years, was the wind beneath his wings.
Anyone who knew Richie knew of his deep appreciation and love for the game of golf – playing, watching, and attending majors all over the world --fretting over Tiger’s demise and thrilled by his triumphant victory. Playing golf with his son, grandchildren, brothers-in-law and buddies became part of his most cherished moments, along with watching movies with his daughter.
He also loved to travel and organized trips for his children, friends and brothers and sisters throughout the years. In true Payne family fashion, he loved attending celebratory gatherings like family reunions, weddings, anniversary and birthday parties which he always made time for despite his busy professional schedule. Richie LOVED photography. How many of us have had to smile as he endlessly asked us to pose, say cheese, standup straight and move over.
Richie loved collecting art as evidenced by his impressive art collection. He also had a deep passion for mentoring the next generation, connecting them to career-advancing support with his personal oversight. To quote one of his nephews, “Richie was able to redefine the expectations in our family,” and he extended that passion to friends, colleagues and protégés all across the world. That is a gift that will forever influence us.
Through all of his impressive accomplishments and accolades, Richie was a modest man who was not concerned with pomp and circumstance. What mattered most to him was his family and his deep, unrelenting faith in God. Richie and Terrie were members of Union Baptist Church in Durham, NC ) at the time of his passing. That was what truly sustained him through his brief illness.
Richie is survived by his wife Terrie; son, Richard E. Payne Jr. (Esezele); daughter Susan Oziogu (Wilburn); four grandchildren, Richard III (Tripp), Justus, Sloan and Zara; siblings, Gladys Hutchinson, Clark Payne Jr. (Barbara), Amelia Burgess, Ollie Mae Pleasant, Joan Rodgers, Sharon Tuffuor (Emmanuel), Joel Payne Sr. (Cathy), Barbara Cato (Tony), Deborah Majette (Steven); godson, Kevin Pleasant; goddaughter, Semeenah Sutton and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family, beloved friends and loved ones.