Right the Record: Henry Gordon “Ace” Payne


Portrait of Henry Payne


  • Born on February 21, 1915, to Town of Culpeper natives Newton Gordon Payne and Eliza Ward Jackson Payne in the Sugar Bottom neighborhood where he was raised in the Town of Culpeper. He was the grandson of Sawney Payne and Cora Lee Gatewood Lewis Payne and nephew of his beloved aunt Annie Laura Payne Lovell.
  • His mother Eliza was a nurse, and his father Gordon was a licensed barber in his father Sawney’s establishment. Barbers could not serve both white and Black clientele and the Payne family chose to engage only the white trade. “Ace” became the proprietor/owner of Gordon’s Barber Shop next door to his residence and Antioch Baptist Church on South West Street.
  • Three barbershops owned by the Payne family were operating in the town during the same era.
  • He was born into and nurtured by the Payne family of educators and businessmen.
  • Ace received his early education at Culpeper County Training School.
  • Student at The Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School in Lawrenceville, Virginia.


  • After completing school, he returned home to open his barbershop but was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1941.
  • Served his country as a Sargent during World War II and honorably discharged.
  • Returned home from WWII and opened his barbershop.
  • Known to everyone as “Ace” Payne, he was a businessman and third-generation licensed barber who owned his first establishment located on the south side in the 200 block of East Davis Street and later relocated to 1014 Orange Road, Culpeper until his retirement in 1982.
  • Married Lillian Alice Apperson on December 25, 1941, and they had one son. Lillian Payne died February 2005.
  • Instrumental in the success and patron of George Washington Carver Regional High School located in Culpeper County while serving the Black students of Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock Counties
  • Active in and was a member of the Payne family church – Antioch Baptist Church, productive and active in civic and community affairs, politics, voting, equality for all citizens.
  • Was taught within the Payne family values of giving back with involvement of a lifetime of community service, speaking up and speaking out to better to enrich the lives of others.
  • Member of and served on Culpeper’s Town Planning Commission and other various committees and boards in the Culpeper community.


  • Received the annual Culpeper Colonels Award in August 2000 for his dedication of years of service to the community.
  • “Ace” died on September 24, 2000, at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville and is buried with his wife in Culpeper National Cemetery (Old Section). He was the last of his two younger siblings who died in April and August of 2000.

Learn more about the people

Right the Record

Honoring the lives of African Americans in Culpeper, Virginia

Learn about Right the Record