Legendary Entrepreneur, Philanthropist Remembered

Osborne Allen Payne was much more than just a wildly successful entrepreneur.

Long before he became Baltimore’s first African-American McDonald’s franchisee he was making a difference on the front lines in classrooms both in America and abroad.

And even after the accomplishments and accolades afforded him the opportunity to become a premier Baltimore businessman, the Bedford, Va. native never abandoned his goal of improving his community.

“If you asked him who he was and what he did for a living, he’d tell you he was just a man who ‘flipped hamburgers,’” said James McLean, owner of Four Seas & Seven Winds Travel Agency.

By 1978 Payne had worked himself into the history books as the first Black franchise owner to win McDonald’s Golden Arch Award for excellence. He later served as president of the Black McDonald’s Owner-Operators Association (BMOA).

“He was always conscious of who he was and where he came from. He was very sensitive to the issues of our youth. He was always out there for our kids,” said McLean, who also remembers Payne’s work as the founding chairman of Associated Black Charities (ABC) of Maryland in 1985. “He believed that whatever we do should be done to improve the plight and the future of our children.”

McLean worked with Payne in 1983, along with 11 other African-American CEOs in the Baltimore area to form The President’s Roundtable (PRT), a network of Black men and women dedicated to significantly increasing the growth of minority companies.

Osborne, who at the time already owned a McDonald’s on North Avenue, would often host PRT meetings in the basement of his property and was known for providing hot breakfast along with a space for the organization to plan their initial endeavors.

The organization still thrives today with a total of 18 members that share expertise in a variety of fields from banking to engineering, construction, and information technology.

ABC, now led by Diane Bell-McKoy, has worked since its founding by Payne to help raise and distribute funding to organizations that work to serve the African-American community.

“There were many who helped envision, advocate and lead the charge for ABC,” said Bell-McKoy, in an emailed statement to the {AFRO}. “Like any house, the strength is in the foundation. Osborne provided that foundation leadership.”

“For a start up nonprofit organization- the implementation of the vision and holding everyone accountable is an essential first step and it is the role of the board chair. This was the leadership of Osborne Payne, who with his business skills created a solid foundation. Twenty-eight years later, ABC is still around and has grown stronger.”

Born on May 26, 1925, Payne, an only child, was destined to follow in his mother’s footsteps as an educator. After a short stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he began teaching and eventually worked his way up to becoming principal at schools in the Richmond area.

Payne is a 1950 graduate of Virginia Union University. He later became a member of the board of trustees there, one of several governing boards he served on. The list includes the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the United Way of Central Maryland, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Baltimore Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Payne was a member of the Gamma Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, or the Boule, which is the oldest fraternity for Black men. Payne was also an active member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and was a member of the Tau Pi Chapter of Columbia, Md.

“He was a giant of a man in every way that you could imagine,” said Dr. Walter Amprey, also a member of Omega Psi Phi, Inc.

Amprey said that Payne was so troubled by young men who abandoned teenaged mothers that he orchestrated a campaign that resulted in billboard display ads encouraging teenaged fathers to take an active role in shaping the lives they created.

“He was very interested in improving the effectiveness of the school system and also how they are viewed. I considered him a mentor, as did many people.”
Aside from his work in the classroom and in the restaurant business, Payne also created and successfully ran Baltimore Specialty Tours, taking tourists and Baltimoreans to see the best of the city by boat and limousine.

The legend passed on Nov. 27 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia, Md., where he lived with wife, Famebridge Payne.

Payne is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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Legendary Entrepreneur, Philanthropist Remembered


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