Tap Payne

Tap Robin Patrick Payne, 72, of Bloomington MN, died peacefully at home, January 12, 2024, in the arms of the love of his life, Margaret.
Tap was born January 30, 1951 to A.W. and Ladye Margaret (Stogner) Payne in Carlsbad, NM. Over the years, five younger brothers and sisters arrived in the Payne household and Tap became the Best Big Brother in the Whole World according to each of them.
Tap graduated from Manzano HS in Albuquerque NM in 1969 and went on to graduate from Eastern New Mexico University in 1973 with degrees in Theatre, and Radio/TV Production. Tap earned an MFA in Scene Design and Stage Lighting from the University of Oregon in 1979.
While at Eastern, Tap was well-known around campus as one-half of the legendary “Tap and Toad Enterprises” – providing all-purpose technical production assistance. Their motto was “What’s good for Tap and Toad Enterprises is good for the USA”. They obviously weren’t humble, just desperate for income.
During a classroom acting assignment, Tap was asked to do a scene from a play with a pretty blond student. As they rehearsed, they started taking an interest in each other. Margaret Pellegrini noticed he was a little shy, so she not-so-subtly urged him to ask her out. He was very willing to comply and a year later they were married.
The young couple left New Mexico when Tap entered the United States Marine Corps after graduation. Tap served to the rank of Captain. Margaret and he were stationed all around the US and spent a year in Iwakuni, Japan.
After earning his MFA, Tap was offered a job at the University of Minnesota in Morris. Coming from New Mexico, Tap said, “How cold can it get in Minnesota? Let’s try there for a few years.” Thirty-three years later, he had two children, was a full professor, was serving at his church, going on mission trips, a leader in Boy Scouts, traveling the world, and yes, he learned how cold it could get in Minnesota.
Tap believed that every student, to be fully educated, should experience another country. Tap led the first study abroad trip to London for UMM students in 1989. This led to his leading more study abroad trips to Italy, Africa, and China. Tap always made sure his students went into grocery stores and shops, not just museums and art galleries.
Tap designed over 100 UMM theatre productions, oftentimes creating everything – scenery, lights, and costumes. Tap served as Discipline Coordinator for 12 years. Tap always said the part he missed most in retirement was working with students, many of whom became friends. Many former students still quote “work faster” as a typical Tapism. He encouraged his daughter to pick up a paint brush in the scene shop when she was 11 and he had a father’s pride that she became a successful muralist.
Tap’s greatest loves were his wife, and children Justin St. Giles and Liliana Love Ostia. The years raising them were the happiest of his life. The latest light of his life was “little Leon”, his grandson.
Tap and Margaret retired to Arizona in 2013. After their daughter, Liliana, married Travis Lennox in 2020 and a grandchild was waiting in the wings, Tap and Margaret moved back to MN so they could be part of the baby’s life.
Little Leon arrived in February of 2023 and pancreatic cancer arrived in August. Although his prognosis seemed very positive, sepsis put a stop to chemo treatments. After several hospitalizations, Tap came home to hospice care. He brightened up whenever little Leon would visit, and enjoyed eating any food item he craved. His brothers and sisters visited plus many friends. Tap enjoyed reading the cards and letters from his former students and colleagues. Tap entered into eternal life peacefully with Margaret right there with him.
Tap enjoyed any John Wayne movie, only New Mexico Mexican food, reminiscing with his brothers and sisters, pretending to be a ventriloquist, popcorn, road trips, being a former Marine, visiting ancient theatres around the world, folk music, discussing apologetics, and he made the best meatloaf. He disliked exercise and doctor’s appointments and very little else. He was a kind and gracious gentleman – quiet, but somehow garnered everyone’s attention. He was respected and loved.
Above all, Tap was a man who followed Christ in his life. Not flawlessly, but unwaveringly. Through personal study, the influence of a trio of pastors, and seeing his Creator in the beauty of the world around him, Tap was “sure and certain” that death had been defeated.
Tap will be missed by: his wife of 52 years, Margaret. His children: Justin (Erica) of Thailand, and Liliana (Travis) Lennox, and precious grandson Leon Robin Payne Lennox of St. Louis Park MN. His brothers and sisters: Suzan Wambold, Rockney (Donna Marie) Payne, Patricia Payne, Pam Topper, and Frank (Donna Sue) Payne. His in-laws: Patti (Marty) Wilcox, Judy (Terry) Holloway, Jon (Rebecca) Pellegrini. His many nieces and nephews and their families. And a world of friends.
A memorial service is being planned for Friday, March 8th, at 1pm at the Morris Evangelical Free Church in Morris MN. A burial service will be held at a later date at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM.