Beloved Woodward Teacher Dies From COVID-19

Tuesday, November 24th 2020, 10:47 pm


After spending many weeks fighting for his life, an Oklahoma teacher and coach lost his battle fighting COVID-19. 

Ron Payne, 57, was an 8th grade math teacher and coached many sports at Woodward Public Schools. 

Payne died Sunday after being placed on a ventilator. He also developed pneumonia and the flu during his COVID-19 battle. 

Family said Payne had a preexisting health condition before contracting the virus. 

“He was a very stubborn man, on top of being the biggest teddy bear you’ll ever meet in your life,” said Gretchen Jones, Payne’s daughter. “I don’t think he met a student that didn’t love him.  

Both Ron and his wife, Judy, tested positive for COVID-19. Judy recovered while Ron’s health continued to decline. 

Watching it unfold from a distance, family said, was horrific.  

“Honestly it’s terrifying -- is how I would describe it because there is so many unknowns with all of the things and the more things you add-in, the more complicated it becomes,” said Kayla Hodges, Payne’s daughter.  

Ron’s wife, Judy, recalled her final words spoken to her husband. 

“He just said that my lungs were going downhill and I need all the prayers I can get,” said Judy. “I love you very much. I love the grandkids.” 

Students, family said, were a passion of Payne’s. Helping him get through, even a global pandemic. 

“We probably got about 15 different letters a couple of nights ago from some of his students, current and past, that just tell him different stories of the things that he would do in class to make it interesting,” said Jones.

It’ll be a tough holiday knowing Payne’s workshop, where he handmade gifts for family, will be empty. 

Memories that will last forever, family said.  

“Thank you for teaching us how our husbands should treat us, thank you for being a good father and a good husband,” said Jones. “Thank you for loving my mom so much.” 

Funeral services will be held Tuesday for Payne at the Billings Funeral Home Chapel in Woodward at 10 a.m.  

Family said to wear a mask and also to wear something OU.