Gerry Payne is trading in his commissioner seat for the greens after 16 years.

“I’ll probably play a little more golf now,” Payne said of his retirement.

Payne has served as District 1 Commissioner for four terms, and is now handing over that responsibility to newly elected Commissioner Dan DeLozier.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time with my family, too,” Payne said.

Everyone who came into contact with Payne was touched in one way or another, and have respect for the man who spent so many years looking after his portion of the county.

“He will leave a legacy that will challenge all who follows,” a tearful Rogers County Assessor Melissa Anderson said at Payne’s retirement celebration Dec. 20.

Payne was honored by a few others in the community, including former Congressman and well known county resident Clem McSpadden, Senator Sean Burrage and Sheriff Jerry Prather.

McSpadden described Payne as

a man who cares about people and

the county.

Burrage presented Payne with a citation from the state Senate. He also added his own personal feelings toward Payne.

“You’ll never know how much it means to me that you came out for me before anyone else did,” Burrage said speaking of his run in the past election. “Stratton Taylor told me you were stronger than dirt in northeast Oklahoma, so I knew it was important to have you support me.”

Burrage read the citation to Payne that stated he set an example for all others to follow.

Prather poked fun at Payne, but said he will be missed.

“We made you honorary inmate of the month, with your mug shot and everything,” Prather said with a laugh.

Cherokee Councilwoman Cara Cowan-Watts said Payne was a commissioner concerned for his district.

“Gerry is known for doing an excellent job with historic bridges and small rural cemeteries,” she said, adding that rural cemeteries in the county are Cherokee cemeteries maintained by local descendants, including Payne.

“Gerry knows and understands his community. He will be missed,” Cowan-Watts said.

District 3 Commissioner Randy Baldridge, who is also leaving his post, said it was an honor to work alongside Payne.

“Gerry demonstrated great leadership and was good for a young commissioner like me to learn under,” Baldridge said. “He has a true caring nature for Rogers County and he will be missed.”

A man who had a chance to work with Payne early on, former Commissioner Kenneth Crutchfield said Payne will always be like family to him.

“He’s as close to a brother that I’ve had in a long time,” he said. “We came into office together and we always knew where he stood. He’s a pretty good golf buddy, too.

“He’s a true good ole’ boy.”

Surprised by the nearly 80 people who came to bid Payne farewell at the celebration, Payne said he has enjoyed his time with Rogers County.

“It’s been an honor to serve Rogers County,” he told the crowd. “I never thought this many people would show up! It’s been great and I want to thank everybody.”