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Jack Louis Payan

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Jack Louis Payan Obituary
Payan, Jack Louis 83, of Palos Heights, Illinois, formerly of Markham, Illinois, died on December 1, 2013 at home in Palos Heights surrounded by loving family. He had been battling prostate cancer since 1994. Jack was born on September 18, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Harry J. Payan and Lucille Redfield Payan. His father was a highly decorated World War One veteran. Jack married his college sweetheart, Ann Davidson, on June 14, 1952, at her home town of Arcola, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Jeannine Payan MacDonald. He is survived by his wife, Ann; and four sons, Clark and his wife Terry, of Pleasanton, California, Craig and his wife Mary Jo, of Tinley Park, Illinois, Jay and his wife Karen, of Sterling, Illinois, and Lance of Oak Forest, Illinois. Jack also leaves ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Sarah Egan, and her husband, Jeff, and their children Grace and Colton, Carly Wike and her husband, James and their daughter Eleanor, and Cole, Jack, Phil, Taylor, Jake, John, Catherine and Josh. While growing up in Markham he became an Eagle Scout, the highest rank accorded by The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and was a lifeguard and a canoeing instructor at a YMCA camp in northern Michigan. Jack was a graduate of Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Illinois, and then went on to graduate from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. He remained active for his entire life at Eastern as a life member of the Alumni Association, the EI Club, the Panther Club and the Foundation Board. Jack was named a Distinguished Alumnus and a Centennial 100 by the university. He was inducted into the EIU Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Friend of Athletics" in November of 2013. He served 17 months at Bad Kreuznach, Germany, with the U.S. Army of Occupation during the Korean War. After discharge he had a brief stint as sports editor of the Mattoon Daily Journal Gazette. He then began what would turn into a 51-year career as an independent insurance agent. He earned the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Professional Designation in 1962 and taught insurance classes for the Chicago Board of Underwriters (CBU) for a number of years. That endeavor led to his election as president of the CBU which was followed by his election as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIA of Illinois) and then the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (lIABA.) He is the only person in history to lead all three of those professional associations. He received the cartwright Award from the IIA of Illinois and the Woodworth Award from the IIABA. These awards are the highest honor that either association can confer on an independent insurance agent. He started his insurance career as a partner in Moore, Payan & Moore in Oak Forest in 1955. In 1958 he bought out the Moore family interest and moved the agency to Markham where he conducted business as Jack Payan Company. In 1970 he merged into the Payan-Stitt Corporation in Palos Heights where he became agency president. PSCO was subsequently merged into Payan, Alberts & Thompson from which he retired in 2006. Jack had moved his family to the Palos area in 1974 and joined the Orland Park Rotary Club the next year. The family also transferred their membership to the Palos Heights Methodist Church. While building his insurance agency in Markham he served for many years as a Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball manager and also coached youth basketball in the Markham Park District. Among his many other civic duties in Markham, he became president of the Chamber of Commerce, was a Red Cross Chairman and a district commissioner for the BSA. He joined Markham Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9801 and became a life member of the VFW. He served on the city's zoning board of appeals and was a trustee of the Markham Methodist Church. In 1968 he was elected Bremen Township Clerk in his only try at public office. Over the years Jack had authored countless articles which were widely published in insurance journals throughout the country. He was a co-editor and contributing author of "Soaring With Eagles" a definitive history of the IIABA which was published by the national association in 1993. In 2001 he wrote a family history and autobiography entitled "Nobody Ever Said Speak Up, Jack." His monograph, "Insurance Pioneers of the Prairie State" was included in the published materials section of the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois. Jack's complete history of Company L, 129th Infantry, 33rd Division in World War One, entitled "Kankakee Doughboys," was published in 2008. "March of the Acronyms," a detailed history of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois was published in 2013 shortly before his death. Jack won his first oratorical contest while in 7th grade and was an outstanding debater and four-year varsity letterman at Thornton while also participating in swimming and track. He was a speech major at Eastern and later utilized his public speaking skills while making presentations to insurance agent conventions in 37 states and several foreign countries including speaking engagements in England, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Portugal. He readily admitted that he talked too much and often declared that he preferred talking to listening. A friend once proclaimed that "if there is nothing to say, Jack will say it." Jack cherished a photo he possessed showing both Henry Kissinger and Illinois Congressman Ed Derwinski listening to him. At this time Jack is probably "bending" St. Peter's ear or giving a speech to a bunch of angels. Jack has established the Jack L. Payan Scholarship at his alma mater. The scholarship benefits a needy speech communications major who has transferred to Eastern Illinois University from an Illinois Junior College. In lieu of flowers, donation may be made payable to the Eastern Illinois University Foundation at 860 West Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, IL 61920 and note on the check that it is for the benefit of the Jack L. Payan Scholarship. Visitation Thursday 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Lawn Funeral Home, 7732 W. 159th St., Orland Park, IL 60462. Lying in state Friday 9:30 a.m. until time of service 10:30 a.m. at Palos United Methodist Church 12101 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Hts., IL 60463. Interment Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Funeral info: 708-429-3200.

Published in Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 4, 2013
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