Albion Little Payson, 75: Passionate about baseball, teaching math

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PORTLAND — Albion Little Payson, 75, died Dec. 21 after battling several illnesses.

He was born in Portland on April 2, 1936, a son of Thomas and Caroline Payson. When he was very young, the family moved to Yarmouth where they remained for nearly 70 years.

Educated at North Yarmouth Academy and Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Payson followed in his father’s footsteps and earned a bachelor of arts degree at Bowdoin College in 1958.

Throughout the years, Bowdoin College and the classmates he met there remained special to Payson, and he regularly attended alumni functions and sporting events, especially women’s basketball.

Shortly after graduation, Payson enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After Officer Candidate School in Chicago, Ill., he served in the Pacific Ocean on the U.S.S. Bennington. While that ship was docked in the Philippines, Payson met the love of his life, Susanna Divinagracia. They were married in 1962 and returned to the United States shortly afterward. He left active duty and entered the U.S. Naval Reserves until his retirement in 1986, rising the the rank of commander.

After working for a short time in Boston, he began his life’s work as a teacher. He taught for five years at North Yarmouth Academy and later moved to Pine Grove Mills, Pa. to earn a Master’s degree in Mathematics at Penn State University. From 1972 until 1997, he taught all levels of mathematics at Ramapo Senior High School in Spring Valley, N.Y. He also coached soccer, basketball and math league.

He was known for his generosity, community spirit, forgiving nature, and love and support of his family.

A lifelong Red Sox fan, Payson was passionate about baseball and served as an umpire during four decades in both Maine and New York, officiating at all levels of recreational and scholastic competition.

In 1963, he attended the Al Somers (now Harry Wendelstedt) Umpire School with the intention of working his way to major league umpiring, but decided instead to commit to local competition to remain close to his family. He rose to president of the Rockland County (New York) Umpires Association and served in this capacity until retiring in 1996.

His commitment to baseball culminated in recognition from the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, which presented him with its President’s Award in 2011.

An active member in St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, he loved singing in the choir. His faith guided him in all his decisions and supported him through the ups and downs of life.

Payson is survived by his wife of 49 years, Susan D. Payson; sons Albion Little Payson II of Congers, N.Y., and Benjamin Nicholas of Williamsburg, Va.; daughter Teresa Landor of Bartlett, Ill.; sisters Helen Brown Seager of Sudbury, Mass., Penelope Hart Simkin of Seattle, Wash., Caroline Cushman Payson of York, and Barbara Tellefsen of Gray; brother Nicholas of Brunswick; five grandchildren; three nephews; and eight nieces.

At Payson’s request, there were no public visiting hours. A memorial service was held on Dec. 28 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 396 Gilman Road, Yarmouth.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Payson’s memory can be made to: Bowdoin College Alumni Fund, Office of Development, 4100 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011 or to St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 396 Gilman Road, Yarmouth, ME 04096.

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