Mary Leota Ball Payne Gibson, 99, passed away peacefully on March 30, 2023 in the loving embrace of her closest family in Vero Beach, FL. She was born March 8, 1924 on a ranch in the dry prairie region of northwestern Oklahoma and grew up a farm girl in a family that valued education, religion, and responsibility in equal measure.
Mary married a young soldier, Dale Payne (deceased), while completing her BA in education at Northwestern State College in Alva, OK. She went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Illinois along with several advanced specialty teaching certificates. Later in life Mary found a second love, James Gibson (deceased), to brighten her life.
Mary was an educator par excellence for over 35 years, primarily in Rock Falls, IL where she lived for 50 years. She served as President of the Whiteside County Education Assn. and Rock Falls Elementary Assn. and as elected officer of the Illinois Education Association Regional Council. Her extensive charitable works included serving as Treasurer for Rock Falls United Methodist Church, on the Salvation Army Board of Directors, a member of PEO sorority, and other local organizations. Her talents and compassion shaped the spirit of her community and enriched hundreds of individuals lives.
Celebrating Mary’s life are Gary and Linda Payne, her granddaughter Dawn and ban Shor, and her great grandchildren Fletcher Payne, Griffin Wagner, and Ev Payne. Mary’s kind and generous spirit exerted special influence on a wide extended surviving family, including Ernie and Shirley Gibson, Larry and Judy Gibson, their families, and many loving nieces and nephews.
One of the greatest of the “Greatest Generation”, Mary will be laid to rest in her family cemetery on an Oklahoma hillside
Friends who would like to share fond memories of Mary or leave condolences for her family may sign and online guestbook at www.millenniumcremationservice.com.
Our caring professionals are here to assist you and your family during this difficult time. We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to assist in immediate arrangements or pre-arrangements.
The service from Millennium was outstanding. Rachel was sweet, personable and very comforting. It was important to me that my dad was kept locally where I knew where he would be. Very nice facility, state of the art and quality of my fathers remains were so refined compared to my mothers years ago. I highly recommend this place for an affordable choice for your loved one. Thank you for making an already stressful event easy. With high regards, the Esposito and Keith Family.
Millennium Cremation provided a fantastic service to our family at a difficult time. Our beloved mother passed away in Vero Beach and the rest of the family was in other parts of the country. Due to the Covid health crisis, none of us could get to Vero Beach in person. That's where Millennium took over. They helped us manage everything, coordinated with a cemetery in Maine, managed the obituaries, expedited all the paperwork, and even delivered an important document locally that saved us days. Funeral director Rachel was a godsend, and she made it clear what she was going to do, and what we needed to do. If you know what you want, Millennium is highly recommended, and the savings versus the full service mortuaries is significant.