Obituary for Ellen Payne

It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of Ellen Elizabeth Layton Payne. Ellen was born March 24, 1959, in Safford, to Junior Grant Layton and Joan Hodgson Layton. Ellen was one of five children; Peggy, Patricia, Suzanne, and Christopher Layton.

She attended schools in the Safford area, graduating from Safford High School in 1977. Ellen was diagnosed with cancer while very young and began her life-long battle. With that diagnosis, she was not sure if she would ever be able to have children, but to her astonishment, she gave birth to her son, Jonathan G. Payne. She was a loving and doting mother to Jonathan; he was her whole world. She loved him fiercely and dearly; he gave her the strength to never give up.

Ellen began working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a unit secretary and later moved to the business office as a trust funds specialist. To her friends and family and anyone in need, she was selfless and would give you the shirt off her back. Ellen was a very loving and kindhearted woman. She cared greatly for every soul on earth – her family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. It was so important to her that everyone around her was happy and loved. Ellen’s presence would light up a room; it was her glow, her smile, her laughter that nobody could forget. She made friends easily and people didn’t forget her. She loved life and throughout her trials here on earth she fought tooth and nail to always look on the positive side.  Even though she got knocked down, she got right back up.  Ellen was also a motivational speaker who loved to help others.  She had a contagious laugh that would draw everyone in.  She was a comedian and was crazy, in a good way.

Ellen Payne

She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings. She was also a compassionate, determined and loving person who dearly loved children, and one of her favorite sayings while serving in the Primary Presidency was, “If Christ was to come to church today, he would come to the nursery first”. 

Ellen is our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, family member, and friend. She is loved by so many people. She has touched so many lives in her time on earth.

She is survived by her mother, Joan H. Layton; her beloved son, Jonathan (Mary) Payne; siblings, Patricia Layton, Suzanne Shurtz, and Chris Layton; three grandchildren, Calvin, Lili, and Rylee; and one great-grandson, Logan.

Ellen was preceded in death by her father, J. Grant Layton, and her sister, Peggy Ozment.

A viewing will be held Thursday, April 4, from 5 until 7 p.m. at the McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel, and on Friday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Safford Stake Center. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. with Bishop LaMont Whetten officiating.  Interment will be in the Thatcher Cemetery following services.

Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory.  Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.

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