“Half the Dad He Didn’t Have to Be.” That’s our dad - - Manuel Joe Payan. We are here to celebrate his life and all that he was to many people and we are consoled by everyone who is here today to help us celebrate his life - - his immediate family, his nieces and nephews, a couple of friends from “the old neighborhood in L.A.,” friends from the neighborhood on Dalwood, and, of course, his church friends. Dad met our mother in 1964. Of all the good decisions our mother made, the decision to become Dad’s wife ranks as one of her best. Though they didn’t actually get married until after my brother and I were grown, he was around regularly for the nine years prior to their marriage, and he enriched our lives in many ways. He had such a big family and it was nice for us to become acquainted with, and then a part of, his family. Likewise, our mother’s family readily accepted him and so their union was a win-win situation for everyone. Dad was a quiet, laid-back man. He used to say, “I have two speeds - - slow and slower” - - and, boy was that ever true! It was nice on the one hand, as he rarely got riled up. That, of course, makes for peaceful living and was one of the things I admired most about him. His “slow speed,” however, became maddening on Christmas Day, when there were presents to be opened and festivities to get underway. Every time it came Dad’s turn to open a present, we all knew what was coming. He would slowly and meticulously disassemble the wrapping, taking care not to rip the paper or otherwise mess up the wrap job. We would stand by impatiently, but with smiles on our faces, as we knew that was just how he did it and no amount of prodding from us was going to change anything!
Born to Victor and Jennie Payan on August 7, 1928, Dad was one of 13 siblings, the youngest boy, and the last of his brothers and sisters to depart this life. During the early years, the Payans traveled up and down the state of California picking fruit. The children were reared to know hard work as well as play, and they derived simple pleasures from a simpler time. Dad could also exhibit an independent streak when he had to. At age 15, he had traveled northward by train from L.A. to visit his older sister, Connie, in Chowchilla. Connie was supposed to have met him at the train station, but somehow there was a mix-up and no one came for Dad, or at least not soon enough to suit him. He got impatient and started walking toward what he’d hoped was Chowchilla. Night fell, he grew tired, and so he slept in a field underneath a tree. When he awoke, he looked up and found what he described as the most beautiful peach he’d ever seen hanging down from the tree above him. He pulled the peach off the tree, ate it thankfully, and always said it was the most delicious peach he’d ever eaten. Oh, by the way, the family did send out a search party, and Dad’s older brother, Vic, found him and so the story had a safe and happy ending. Dad attended high school here in Los Angeles, but grew restless prior to graduation and, as many young men did back then, he enlisted in the Armed Forces - - the Navy, to be exact. It was toward the end of World War II and, though he did not see combat, he certainly stood at the ready to serve his country in combat, should that have been necessary for him. It wasn’t, and so he served his country aboard ship and saw something of the wider world instead. I believe his Navy voyages ignited his love for travel and, in 1970, he and our mother flew to Western Europe. We’re told that, in Rome, on the Spanish Steps, a purse snatcher attempted to avail himself of my mother’s purse. She hadn’t noticed, but Dad had. In his characteristic laid-back manner, he didn’t yell or make any noise. He just clamped his hand - - hard - - over the purse snatcher’s hand and said in a quiet voice, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” With dad’s strong grip over the purse snatcher’s hand for a few more seconds, the purse snatcher wisely reconsidered that particular endeavor and, when Dad let go his iron grip, the purse snatcher made a run for it. Mom and Dad eventually teamed up with two of our uncles and their wives and the three couples enjoyed several trips together, flying and/or cruising to far off locales. Mom and Dad also motored across the United States, and enjoyed that very much.
Dad worked as a precision machinist, mostly in the aerospace industry, from the time he left the Navy to the time he retired. He was good at his craft and enjoyed the living his skill provided him and his family. He was always good with his hands and, like most men of his generation, actually fixed broken appliances rather than tossing them out and buying new ones like we do today.
When my brother and I married and had children, Dad embraced his role as father-in-law and grandfather seamlessly. The grandchildren came in sets. Initially, there were two grandsons, Philip and Pelayo II, close in age, and some years later two granddaughters, Rachel and Kristen, also close in age. Mother and Dad took the boys and then the girls on various jaunts and excursions, and time spent with Grandma and Grandpa was much treasured. Some years later, a third grandson was born. That grandson, Taylor, didn’t get to know his Grandpa as well, nor enjoy the excursions with them that the others had. But, he got something else very special from Grandpa - - his middle name. My brother and his wife, Kerry, decided to give Taylor the middle name of Payan, something of Grandpa that Taylor will always carry with him. Dad deserved that tribute.
He was definitely the dad and then the grandfather and, after that, the great-grandfather, that he didn’t have to be. He became “Papa” to five great-granddaughters - - in order of age, Mya Rae, Rhianna Faith, Hailey Brianna, Savannah Grace, and the newest, Julianna Rose, born the same day Dad was brought home to hospice care, in beautiful demonstration of Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1 and 2 - - to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die. We are proud to have called Manuel Joe Payan our Dad - - Our children cherish their memories with their Grandpa - - his daughter-in-law, Kerry, and grandchildren-in-law, Natalie, Grace, and Scott, we know, appreciated the man he was and he appreciated what good spouses they are to his son and grandchildren - - the great-granddaughters here locally had fun playing with their “Papa,” and, though Savannah never got to know him well, he was proud to know she was the daughter of his grandson. Julianna, of course, he never knew, but, again, she is the one who came to our family as he was leaving our family and there is something very special about that. His nieces and nephews have cherished memories of their Uncle Manuel in his earlier years with the Payan clan and they bid him farewell as he joins their parents and grandparents. And, finally, our mother, of course, was blessed with a loving and devoted husband for almost 40 years. He filled that void, met that need, and set a wonderful example for all of us of hard work, responsibility, a quiet strength, and a willingness to give a lot more to others than he ever asked for himself.
Randy Tayles and Rebecca
Manual was an easy going guy. Family parties were always fun when he was around. Since he was my grandmothers brother, I had the pleasure of seeing him many times. He and Alice have a special place in my heart.
With the death of my grandmother Celia( Sally) he send me a card I will never forget. He told me how very he was for my loss and that any time that they would visit, she would speak of me with pride as if she were my mother and to never doubt how much she loved me.
With all the hurt that must have been in his heart with the loss of his sister, he made time to support me in my time of need.
Thank you, Manuel. The Lord has truly brought home an angel. Welcome Home.
Cindy, until we meet again
My Uncle Manuel…he was a handsome, charismatic, bachelor. Of course this was back in the day when I was a very young child. My Mother, Mary, was Manuel's sister. She loved her younger brother very much…they were close. When at my Grandma & Grandpa's house it would always be exciting when Uncle Manuel showed up! He lived in a small house behind their home. He was a nice looking man, even though I was just a little girl I knew he was cute. Uncle Manuel was cool, people liked it when he was around. I remember his car, of course I was only 5 years old and this is fifty years later we are talking about so please forgive my memory if need be. But I remember it to be a 1960 baby blue Ford Thunderbird Convertible. I think he used to drive my cousin Debbie and I around the block…well, maybe once. It was around this time that he met Alice…a very kind, attractive, voluptuous redhead. Alice was a beauty that immediately took my handsome Uncle Manuel off the market! They made quite a pair, a beautiful couple…Uncle Manuel and Aunt Alice. He joined her along with her two children and created a caring, loving family.
My Mother, Mary, passed away on Thanksgiving 2011, nearly six short months before her brother joined her. Uncle Manuel is the last of thirteen children to pass on. They all are missed by their loved ones…their lives mattered to many. I have good memories of family gatherings and Christmases past at my Grandparents home…they all were there, lots of adults with many children…and tamales…there were always homemade tamales to share.
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.