By: Kevin Jones

Every now and again in life, you get to meet people who have interesting stories to tell. I met just such a couple the other day, AP newcomers Donald and Pamela Payne. Both Donald and Pamela were born and raised in Elizabeth City, NC, and while they knew of each other, they didn’t really meet until attending college at NC State.

They married after earning their degrees. Donald then joined the Air Force and Pamela became an English teacher. In the Air Force Donald flew the F-4 Fight-er Jet Bomber. Just like in the Top Gun movie, he too had a “nickname.” Decorum prevents me from stating it here, but it’s part of just one of the interesting stories I mentioned earlier.

It happened that Donald’s squadron was called upon to go in Vietnam. The men said goodbye to their families, boarded the transport plane, and their families depart-ed. As the plane was taxiing to the end of the runway for takeoff, a very official-looking vehicle entered the tarmac and stopped the plane in its tracks. It turns out that the war would be coming to an end soon, so it was decided not to send the squadron after all. A frantic search was underway to get the families back, and a night or two of “celebration” was had by all (yes, there is another interesting story in there).

After ten years of traveling around this country and to various other parts of the world as part of military life, Donald was honorably discharged from the Air Force and started working for DuPont, eventually ending up in Connecticut.

All during the moving around, Pamela found work as an English teacher. But in Connecticut she began working in the restaurant supply industry for a gourmet food supplier. As I heard it, the food supplier catered to some very high clientele. When it got in a large shipment of caviar or specialty cheeses, it would have a gathering of VIPs and movie stars for a sampling par-ty. VIPs and movie stars Pamela was able to meet included Sofia Loren and a few folks of the Italian per-suasion who shall remain nameless here, as I like my knees right where they are.

Eventually, Donald and Pamela found their way back to Elizabeth City and built a home in a nice development with a golf course. As time went on, it became clear that the development was not being managed well. Having lived in the area, they knew about Albemarle Plantation and decided to take a look. Karma took over. Their realtor showed them a house in the Middleton neighbor-hood adjacent to the first fairway, a house nearly identical to the one they had built. Even the interior appointments like the rugs, decorations, and colors were almost the same. After learning how organized and financially secure Albemarle Plantation is, it was clear that this would be their new home.

They moved in September, 2021. Since then, they have joined a couple of clubs—Pamela the Duplicate Bridge Club and Donald Men’s Golf. They both love to play golf, especially Donald who played 364 rounds last year. They intend to join more clubs as the year goes on.

Having family history in the area, Pamela is very interested in her genealogy and relayed a few nice stories. I found a couple of tidbits fascinating. One is that her family founded the Elizabeth City Shipyard, a division of the Elizabeth City Iron Works and Supply Company. Also, the Newbold-White House is the ancestral home of her great-great-great-great-great (I’m not sure how many greats exactly, but you get the idea) grandfather. Also, she may be related to another resident here at AP, but I’ll let her reveal that when she’s ready.

If you meet Donald and Pamela, sit with them for a spell. I think you’ll find them as interesting as I did. Donald can be reached at dwpayne48@gmail.com and Pamela at iampsp47@gmail.com.