Otha Payne Jr: 1943-2019

WOAY – WOAY has learned former Mount Hope quarterback Otha Payne Jr. passed away Tuesday at the age of 76.

Payne was the first African-American quarterback for the Mustangs, and was a key part of their success on the gridiron in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Those teams – under the leadership of Payne, Lonnie Warwick, and Ted Spadaro – reached three straight Class AA state championship games.

The Mustangs would share the 1959 championship with Mullens after a 0-0 tie, and were co-champions again in 1960 following a 7-7 tie with Williamson. Mount Hope was runner-up in 1961 to Williamson, who won that title game 20-13.

After his time at Mount Hope, Payne entered the United States Air Force.

Family members say funeral arrangements are currently being discussed.