Jennifer  Payne
Jennifer  Payne

Obituary of Jennifer Charline Payne

Jennifer Charline Payne | James Charles Payne

August 17, 1947 – August 19, 2022


A memorial service for Jennifer, with a reception following, will be held at 11am on Saturday, September 3rd, at Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church, 1004 24th St. SE, Rio Rancho, NM. The service will be live-streamed here.

Born in Green Bay, WI on August 17, 1947, Jennifer was naturally a lifelong Packers fan. Given her birthplace, there was no choice, and she never missed a game. She was with her spouse Karen and children when she passed after a surprisingly short battle with cancer.

Jim/Jennifer lived a full life, both personally and professionally. In 1966, he enlisted in the Air Force and served as a radio ground operator stationed in the Azores. He was an honorably discharged sergeant in 1970.

Jim had a B.A. in Political Science from UW-Green Bay, a Master’s in Public Administration from Arizona State University, and enjoyed a long and successful career of 35 years in city management. He started out in Roseville, MN, before moving on to Le Mars, IA; Franklin, WI; Waukesha, WI; and Rio Rancho in 2007. She enjoyed an almost 10-year career as Executive Director of Storehouse West, Sandoval County’s food pantry. During the COVID lockdown, she found innovative ways to continue to distribute food to those in need. She was known for her calm and steady demeanor and an encyclopedic mind. A person of few words, she was analytical and logical while also warm, genuine, and caring.

She was an advocate for social justice and the environment. Scuba was a passion she shared with son Nick, the two taking wonderful trips together for that and riding rollercoasters. She loved tinkering and doing home improvement projects, using technology, reading (espionage, science fiction and mysteries), and vinyl record collecting (with a special love for classic rock).

She loved adventure, exploring Venezuela with daughter Tierney in 2001 and taking a scuba trip to Egypt last year with Nick. She greatly enjoyed tennis and hiking, and her camping skills

were honed early in Boy Scouts in the 50s. She enjoyed astronomy and cosmology, often taking her children out to their front porch to gaze at the moon and planets with their telescope. She thoroughly enjoyed Coca-Cola, eggs and bacon, and holding forth on the proper way to dunk an Oreo in milk using fork.

Most importantly, Jennifer adored her family. She is survived by her spouse, Karen; two children, Tierney Popp and Nicholas Payne, by former wife Kathy Koomjian; little sis Nancy (Bill) Williquette; two grandchildren Jonah and Talia Popp; her nephews EJ (Anna) and Matt (Kari) Van Lanen and their children; her niece Jenny Williquette; and other family members.

Her best times were with her children and grandchildren. She and Nick enjoyed many in-person Packer games (the colder and snowier, the better!). She and Tierney had deep conversations about life (Dad always with the best advice!) and their latest read. She loved anything and everything involving her grandchildren, including spoiling them with donuts and cheering them on at their sporting events whenever she came to visit.

In 2020, at the age of 73, Jim surprised his family by coming out as Jennifer, a transgender woman. After nearly a lifetime, it was wonderful for her family and friends to get to know her. It was a gift that she ended life as the person she had always been.

Jennifer’s family thanks the staff, nurses, doctors, and chaplains at the UNM hospitals who worked tirelessly and compassionately with her over her last two months. Their heartfelt care and support was a gift to Jennifer and her family.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to the charity of your choice or to Storehouse West, 4Ocean, the ACLU, or Common Defense

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Jennifer
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Riverside Funeral Home of Albuquerque