Harry Payne was born on October 26, 1940 in Lakeland, New Jersey. He attended Lakewood High School, where he played football, threw the javelin, and was a trumpet player. After graduating in 1958, he went to Morgan State College, where he was a member of the Pershing Rifles and an athlete who excelled at wrestling.
After graduating from Morgan State College, Payne entered the military as a second lieutenant and was sent to Korea from 1964 to 1968. Upon leaving the military, he continued to serve in the U.S. Reserves as a captain. He held a few jobs and then went to work at Middlesex College in New Jersey in 1973, where he stayed for nine years and eventually became Director of Admissions. At Middlesex, Payne was honored by having a scholarship established in his name.
While working, Payne decided to further his education and earned a Master’s degree from Rutgers University. He also enrolled in Rutgers’ doctoral program in the area of college admissions.
Payne’s hobbies were photography and sailing, and he worked to obtain his sailor’s license. He gave regularly to such charities as the Disabled Veterans and the United Negro College Fund. Payne died on November 25, 1982.