Thomas F. Payne Profile Photo

Thomas F. Payne

July 28, 1948 — December 5, 2023

Kalispell, Montana

Thomas  F. Payne, 75, passed away Dec. 5, 2023, at the Buffalo Hill Terrace. He was born in Livingston, Montana, on July 28, 1948.  

He grew up in a modest home on the banks of the Yellowstone River. He enjoyed the Montana way of life. He enjoyed fishing, hiking, X-country and downhill skiing, square and western dancing and most of all hunting. He took pride in really hunting, hiking to the top of the mountain and working his way down. He usually hunted on his own so as to keep his favorite hunting spots a secret. He processed his own meat. He spent summers working on his Uncle Bernie and Aunt Etta’s ranch in Paradise Valley. He developed a love of agates, arrow heads and rocks while working in their rock shop.

He grew up with many aunts, uncles and cousins nearby. He had fond memories of his grandparents’ home where there was always someone coming and going. His father had a car shop, Paynes Motors, and Tom grew up working on his own motorcycles and cars. He worked in his father’s shop through college. 

He attended MSU Bozeman, and graduated top of his chemical engineering class. He won the prestigious Gold Award which is given to one engineering student each year. He worked hard and earned many scholarships and prided himself on paying his own way through college. He had eleven job offers when he graduated and accepted the one that afforded him a way to continue the Montana lifestyle he so enjoyed.  

He started work at the Anaconda Aluminum Company in 1970. He started in the lab and wore many hats through the years finishing in upper management. He enjoyed his job, especially negotiating contracts for the products that needed to be shipped to the plant from all over the world. He enjoyed his coworkers and retirement came too soon in 2008. After retiring from CFAC, Tom worked part time as a Home Building Estimator and he was a sought-after substitute teacher in Bigfork.

Tom married Sue Hays in 1970. They had two children, Andrew and Jonathan. They later divorced. Tom met Charline in 1992 and they married in 1998. Charline brought two step-sons into Tom's life, Eric and Evan Hogue.  

Tom and Charline enjoyed many happy times with family at their Echo Lake home. They enjoyed pulling all their young family members around the lake behind their boat. The circling was endless. They enjoyed designing and helping build their homes and believed in sweat equity. They had many happy times traveling to see family and vacationing in Oregon and Hawaii. 

After selling the lake place, they embraced Glacier National Park, hiking in the backcountry. Tom loved visiting Yellowstone with his family. Yellowstone held many happy memories for Tom and he went almost every year. He always enjoyed puttering in his workshop. He prided himself on keeping their homes in tip top shape. 

Tom was a wonderful husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. He will be remembered for his integrity, kindness and his quick wit. He was so happy to become a PaPa to Harrison and Henry. It saddens us that he will not be here to see them grow up.

His faith was important to him and he enjoyed Men’s Bible Study. Sadly, Tom struggled with Alzheimer’s the last seven years, but he remained his core self to the end.

He leaves behind his wife, Charline; and sons, Andrew, Jonathan (Lacie), Eric and Evan (Autumn); his sister, Roxlyn Hogan (Frank); and brother, Steve (Vikki); and many beloved cousins, nephews and nieces.  

He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Lee and Fern Payne.

The family wants to thank all the caregivers that helped Tom in his final years. They treated him with kindness, respect and dignity. In his memory, please give a caregiver a hug.

A celebration of Tom's life is being planned for next summer in Livingston, and Tom’s favorite place, Yellowstone.

Friends are encouraged to visit our website at to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.


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