F. Carvel Payne, former director of the Maryland Department of Legislative Reference, died of cancer Sunday at his Decatur, Georgia, home. The former Severna Park resident was 77.
Born Franklyn Carvel Payne in Baltimore and raised on Anneslie Road, he was the son of Ernest F. Payne, a post office worker, and his wife, Elizabeth Stroh, a nurse at Towson High School. He was a 1960 graduate of Towson High School, where he was student government president. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the Johns Hopkins University and was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.
While in the 11th grade and taking a driver’s education course he met his future wife, Anne Cooper Sartorius. They dated ate through their senior year and in college and married in 1965.
Mr. Payne was named director of the Maryland Department of Legislative Reference and ran the agency from 1978 to 1997.
“His Annapolis office was situated at the corner between the Maryland House of Delegates and the governor’s mansion and was symbolic of his role as a tactful negotiator in drafting legislative bills and ushering them to passage by the executive branch,” said his son, David Carvel Payne of Atlanta.
His son said his father was recognized for his leadership in implementing organizational improvements to the state’s legislative processes at the advent of computerized bill drafting and reference.
“Carvel Payne was the consummate perfectionist. He set a high bar for himself,” said Senior Judge Daniel M. “Danny” Long, a Salisbury resident who represented the Lower Eastern Shore in the General Assembly. “He had a real passion for the General Assembly. He had a remarkable institutional memory.”
Mr. Payne served on the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments.
“He treasured personal friendships from international travels and with political partners across the decades, particularly prizing the camaraderie of the Friends of the Eastern Shore Society,” his son said.
His son said Mr. Payne’s attention to detail was well known in Annapolis.
“During the General Assembly, he had the audio broadcast from the House floor piped into his office, often late into the nights — ensuring that he was abreast of every legislative debate,” his son said. “He spent hours editing the Annotated Code of Maryland, and with his staff rapidly published the collection of laws enacted the previous year,” his son, David, said.
His son described his father as an enthusiastic emissary of Maryland and its constitutional government.
In the 1980s and 1990s Mr. Payne hosted delegations from the Russian embassy on visits to Annapolis.
After he retired Mr. Payne was contracted to improve the transparency and efficiency of legislative services in Tanzania and Croatia. He lived in Zagreb, Croatia, for several months.
During retirement, he taught American government and constitutional law as an adjunct professor at Anne Arundel Community College, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Baltimore.
“He never pursued any further permanent position in this field but was satisfied to share his firsthand knowledge of the importance and mechanics of the state and federal governments to younger generations,” his son said.
Mr. Payne settled in Severna Park in 1970 and later moved to the Edenwald Retirement Living Community in Towson. He served as its 2018 interim president.
Mr. Payne’s portrait at Edenwald is directly next to that of his grandfather, George Conrad Stroh, who had served as Edenwald’s president when it was known as the Greisenheim.
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"Many of our residents no longer drive, so frequent appearances of the bookmobile was an event to which they eagerly looked forward,” he said of his retirement community neighbors. “The library system wanted to cut back our service to just once per month and the residents raised an outcry.”
In addition to his wife of 55 years, a retired Anne Arundel County first grade teacher, and his son, survivors include another son, Dr. Daniel Cooper Payne of Decatur; a daughter, Elizabeth Payne Gatchel, also of Decatur; a sister, Claire Louise Greenhouse of Towson; and four grandchildren.