By Carter Krouse
The Strath Haven community was shocked and hurt badly when news broke this summer that former Strath Haven student and standout athlete Robert Payne was killed in Chester, Pa. Friends and family mourned the loss of a man who was considered “everyone’s friend,” someone who was seen as kind, generous, and thoughtful.
Close friends of Payne who went to Strath Haven with him wanted to find a way to remember the life of such an amazing person. Led by Payne’s 2003 Strath Haven High School classmate and current SHHS science teacher Caitlyn Locke, among other alumni and friends, two great strides have been made toward ensuring that Payne is never forgotten.
The first stride is the creation of One Haven, an organization that brings individuals and communities together to focus on the power of education and on developing strong relationships in a safe environment. One Haven founders hope to use their common connection and outreach through communication to raise money to fund the Robert Allen Payne Scholarship. The Payne scholarship will be awarded to a student-athlete who is committed to their community and to striving for excellence in and out of the classroom. The scholarship will help this student pursue a college education at an accredited institution.
The next step is the creation of an annual 3 v. 3 basketball tournament, tipping off this year. The tournament takes place on Saturday, March 18, in the Strath Haven High School gym from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and will be a great way for people to remember Payne through a game he loved. If you’re a player, get your trio together; team sign-ups are open but are filling quickly. High schoolers pay $20 per team, adults pay $80 per team. Middle school team slots are full.
Volunteers are needed on game day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. as court monitors, T-shirt sellers and concession stand workers. Sign up through the website at onehavenunite.com. Community members are encouraged to come out — it’s free to watch the action and cheer the teams, learn more about One Haven and have some fun.
Along with this event, One Haven plans on hosting various events moving forward. Their message is clear: together we can truly make change for the better. For information about One Haven and the 3 v. 3 tournament, visit onehavenunite.com.
Recollections of Rob Payne
We asked friends and from the Swarthmore and Strath Haven communities to share recollections of Robert Payne, a man who was known as “everyone’s friend.”
“I last saw Rob about a year before I retired and we had a long discussion about his future. He told me about wanting to be a teacher. Needless to say I was very proud. What I remember about that visit was his genuine joy in surprising me in my classroom after school. At first I didn’t know who he was, then he smiled and I knew. How could you ever forget that smile! All I could think about was what a positive role model he would be for his students.” – Ed Gaynor (Rob’s elementary school teacher from Swarthmore Rutledge School)
“In Rob’s senior year, his mom was running late to the basketball game so he waited to score his 1,000th career point until she was there. They stopped the game to celebrate and he gave his mom the game ball. He lit every room up, and he was always there for me or anyone who needed him.” – Durell Moore (teammate, SHHS class of 2003)
“There are very few instances in life when you can vividly remember your first encounter with someone, he was one of those people though who just left that impression.” – Jen Wenrich (SHHS class of 2003)
“Rob made everyone know that they mattered and that he cared for them, he always took time to let you know that in some way.” – Caitlyn Locke (SHHS class of 2003)
“Rob treated everyone the same. He was funny and had a contagious personality so people naturally gravitated towards him” – John Durnell (SHHS class of 2003)
“Rob just had a presence about him.” – Dan Spangler (teammate, SHHS class of 2003)
“He was an old soul.” – Ray Bradwell (SHHS class of 1999)
“Rob was humble, loyal, and intellectual.” – Aaron Mathis (SHHS class of 2000)