The Honorable Jeff Payton

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The Honorable Jeff Payton: Beloved Judge, Devoted Family Man, and Pillar of Mansfield
The Honorable Jeff Payton, one of Mansfield’s most notable leaders and a beloved pillar of the community, passed away on October 13, 2023, following a brave fight against cancer. He was surrounded by family and friends.
Judge Payton was more than a respected legal figure. As the first Black elected official in Richland County, he was a beacon of integrity and fairness in the local judicial system for more than 30 years. Throughout his esteemed career, he tirelessly upheld the principles of justice and equality, touching countless lives with his wisdom and compassion.
Born on September 11, 1946, to Cornelius Payton and Gertrude Cosby Payton in Canton, Mississippi, his family moved to Mansfield when he was two years old. Judge Payton grew up on the north end of town and enjoyed an active childhood playing with the neighborhood kids, swimming in Toby’s Run, and making bicycles out of junkyard parts.
A proud product of Mansfield City Schools, Judge Payton was heavily involved in sports, specifically football, basketball, and track. He graduated from Malabar High School in 1964 and earned his bachelor of science degree in biology from Ashland University in 1969, where he later received the alumni association’s Special Achievement Award and was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame in 1990.
Judge Payton considered going to medical school, but had a change of heart after attending an intensive study program at Harvard University during the summer of 1967. His passion for justice eventually led him to the Cleveland Marshall College of Law, from which he graduated in 1975.
Before becoming a lawyer, Judge Payton touched lives as a teacher and coach at John Simpson Junior High and Cleveland Heights High School. It was in the halls of these institutions that he first demonstrated his unique blend of discipline, compassion, and commitment.
His rich legal career saw him wear many hats, from earning an internship with the United States Department of Justice to serving as the first director of the Richland County Legal Services Association. His tenure as a Juvenile Court Magistrate further showcased his dedication to the community’s youth.
As a municipal court judge, his heart for reform was evident. Judge Payton was instrumental in implementing numerous programs, including Victim’s Assistance, Intensive Probation Supervision, and the Driver Intervention Program. These initiatives are testaments to his commitment to both justice and rehabilitation.
Judge Payton’s passion for service extended beyond the courtroom. Whether serving on the Board of Directors for MedCentral Health System or as the past president of the Ohio Municipal Judges Association, his leadership and influence were felt deeply.
He was a longtime champion and supporter of the Rehabilitation Services of North Central Ohio and Mansfield Memorial Homes, a member of Prince Hall Lodge Pride of Ohio No. 80, and a lifetime member of the NAACP. He also served Mt. Calvary Baptist Church faithfully as a trustee and treasurer for several decades.
Judge Payton’s high school athleticism continued throughout his life; he enjoyed being a part of the Ebony Sportsmans Club and Park Lanes Bowling Team, was an avid golfer and former member of the Shelby and Westbrook Country clubs. He was also a lifelong fan of the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes.
A loving husband, devoted father, and cherished friend, Judge Payton leaves behind a profound legacy of love and service. The birth of his grandchildren, Jahi and Violet, was a bright spot during his challenging health battle. He is survived by his loving wife, Carol, with whom he recently celebrated 50 years of marriage; their children, daughter Erin (Jonathan) Hamilton of St. Paul, Minnesota, and son Jeffrey (L’Oreal) of Evanston, Illinois; sisters Herscine Adkison of Mansfield, Ohio, and Kay (Randy) Williams of Brandon, Mississippi; brothers Claude (Robin) of San Diego, California, and Cornelius Payton of Jackson, Mississippi; and a host of family and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents; sister, Lucy Woodruff; and three brothers, Hercules Payton Sr., Cornelius Payton “Jr.”, and Earl Spencer Payton.
Jeff, we will miss you immensely. It’s hard to put into words the impact you’ve had on us all. You were the one we turned to for advice, our comfort when we needed clarity—someone we knew we could always count on no matter what. You taught us the importance of faith, family and friendship, as well as the value of hard work. There is now a void in our hearts, but we know it will be filled with memories of your smile, your laugh and your generous spirit for years to come. Thank you for loving us, for holding us close and lifting us up. We promise to make you proud and honor you by living our lives with the love and light that you so wonderfully demonstrated throughout yours. We love you and we find solace in knowing that we will see you again. Until then, rest easy.

Visitation will begin at 9:00am, Masonic Service at 9:30 am and Celebration of Life Service at 11:00 AM Monday, October 23, 2023 at The Oasis of Love, 190 Chester Ave. Interment at Mansfield Cemetery Association. Ministry of Comfort entrusted to MARLAN J. GARY FUNERAL HOME, MANSFIELD CHAPEL, 753 McPherson St. (formerly Williams Funeral Services). To read the complete obituary, order flowers, view video tribute and offer condolences to the Payton Family, visit

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Condolence Messages

  1. Evangelist Dr. Ella Bond-Mullens

    My sincere condolences to his family.

  2. Kim Y. Hairston-Dismuke

    Praying for the Family.

  3. Kimberly J Mitchell

    So sorry for your loss he will be truly missed

  4. Debbie Jefferson

    Was a very popular judge and was very fair I think may you rest in peace. Prayers for the family.

  5. Sincere Condolence to the PAYTON
    family..You all are certainly in our prayers.

    Brenda Feagin and family

    • Christine Canada English

      I’m so sorry for your loss of such a great man and he loved God and his family….your steps is ordered by God….rest easy my friend….rip

  6. Judge Payton was a true honor to be around. His humor and grace were unmatched. My heart goes out to his family and the entire of city of Mansfield. We lost a true gem.

  7. Mawusi Ahelegbe-Dyer

    Erin, I am so sorry about your dad. He was such a fun man the few time I met him. May his joy and love continue to shine not just through you and your brother but also his grandchildren. Praying for you and your family. We love you❤️
    The Ahelegbe-Dyer family(MN).

  8. Carolyn J. Parker

    To the Payton Family: Offering up prayers of comfort as you go through this time of grief and sorrow. The Mansfield Community has lost a great friend along with others from many other communities throughout Ohio and beyond. Jeff will be very much missed. Thank you Jeff for your service.

  9. Had the pleasure of knowing The Honorable Jeff Payton. And stood in front of him. And bowled with him. My go out to the family.

  10. Charles and Patti (Cash) Ray


  11. Angie Durham Brooks

    It was a pleasure being able to have Judge Payton as my boss at the Mansfield Municipal Court. He was a fair person, a trustworthy and kind person. One time he called me into his office. He told me he heard a conversation someone had with me in the office and for me not to never let anyone talk to me like that again. He smiled and said that’s all I wanted. I am so grateful God allowed me to meet him and work for such a wonderful person. He will be greatly missed in this community. Family know you all are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love ya,
    Angela Durham Brooks

  12. Twyla Wilkins Hood

    My Sincere Sympathy

  13. Queen Owens Dulin-McKinney

    Jeff, my soft spoken friend. So very kind and always had the same demeanor. Golf buddy in Texas. Bowling buddy too at Lex. Never hesitant to give legal advise. Rest in heaven. You will be sorely missed. Carol and family you are in my prayers and have my deepest sympathy. May GOD bless you and give you strength to endure. To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. II Cor. 5:7-8. You now have your glorious pain free body my friend.



  15. Khalil and Joyce Ali

    To the Payton Family, you have our deepest, heartfelt condolences, and prayers . Rest in Peace and Paradise my brother.

  16. Patricia Harris Pride

    My condolences and prayers to the Payton Family. He will be truly miss.

  17. My sincere deepest condolences to the family. I’ll continue to pray for comfort. I LOVE you family.
    Mary Jo. Simmons

  18. Garnetta Pender

    With Sympathy
    During this time, may the Lord draw especially near to you…
    to comfort your heart, to bring you the hope of eternal life, and
    to fill you with His peace.
    With Prayers And Sympathy
    Garnetta Pender and Family

  19. Billie J Chester

    Carol and Family,
    David and I offer our sincere sympathy and condolences. Judge Peyton was an exceptional individual. I actually met Jeff when he was a legal aid attorney. We were work neighbors. The community has loss a great advocate for justice We are so sadden to hear of his passing. Prayers are sent

  20. Betty Palmer-Harris

    My sincere sympathy to the Payton family for the loss of your loved one. Judge Payton was a very compassionate person. I enjoyed working with Judge Payton at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church when he served as Treasurer because of his meek spirit. My prayers are with you at this time of grief. May God bless and keep you.

  21. Beverly A Cline

    To the family of Honorable Jeff Payton. May God continue to be with each of you in the days to come . For your strength is in the Lord.

  22. Judge Payton, I never met a man with more integrity. His calm demeanor spoke of his intelligence.
    Carol and family, my most sincere condolences. Jeff was the man to set a standard by. It was a privilege to work with him.

  23. Dear Carol and family. It really saddened me to read of Jeff’s passing. Knowing each other since we were kids, there was no finer man and boss than Jeff. Please accept my sympathy and condolences in your loss of a wonderful man.

  24. Tony, Vivian Davis

    We the Davis Family send our Deepest Condolences to the Payton family, and our Prayers are with you all. Tony, and Vivian Davis and Family.

  25. Jeanette Cameron Hess

    Thank you Carol, Erin & Jeffrey for an awesome OB, his service has been written. Judge Peyton was a man that always done things deceit and in order. Through the years I was able to call for advice, he was there for me. Honorable Judge Jeff Payton pick up
    your crown, good and faithful servant. The community will miss you!

  26. Sending my condolences to the Payton family, may God be with you and comfort you in your time and need.

  27. My condolences to you all. I hope you find peace & continue to share all your memories. He was an amazing man & asset to our community.

  28. Fayette ( DJ Lady C) Battle

    Condolences to the family. This city has truly lost an icon. Praying strength for the family and Mrs. Payton I love you so much.

  29. Mary Ellen Walter

    Deepest sympathy, comfort, peace during this time of unbearable grief for the loss of Jeff, a wonderful, kind man.

  30. My condolences to the Peyton family judge Jeff Peyton open the door for me in Mansfield when I first came back from Washington DC and that door never shut till I retired, rest in comfort judge Peyton, family may God comfort you at this time.

  31. To Carol, Erin and Jeffrey, my condolences and hope you find peace. Jeff was a good and strong man. Many would benefit from emulating his beliefs and calm demeanor. He was my friend and I will miss him. During my last visit with him, he expressed his hopes for the future and the joy he felt with his family. Heaven has welcomed a great man

  32. We extend heartfelt condolences and prayers to the entire Payton family. Our prayer is that all the precious memories will help to lighten your hearts and brighten your days in the coming hours and days. We will keep you all in our prayers.

    Rosie Jean, Elaine, Burke Jr, Clarence & Carmen

  33. My condolences and prayers for the family. May you have peace comfort in Jesus

  34. Marlene Brightwell

    My very sincere condolences to the Payton Family. He was a very good friend to my mother and he was there with us at the hospital when she transitioned. I appreciated that sooo much and I will always remember that time. God has a received a beautiful soul. Again I offer my sincere condolences.

  35. Chris and I offer our sincerest condolences to you Carol and family! There were so many wonderful, wonderful memories in the span of time we were in Mansfield! Jeff was truly one of the kindest, sincerest people I’ve known! He will truly be missed!
    Sending prayers and love to the family ❤️

  36. My sincere condolences to the Payton family. Jeff will be truly missed.

  37. Joyce Reed Trimble and the Reed family

    So sorry to hear about Judge Payton he will be missed praying for the family that God will give you strength.

  38. My deepest sympathy to Carol and the entire family. Jeff was a wonderful person who will be missed by so many. His contribution to the community will never be forgotten. May God bless and keep you all.

  39. I got to know Jeff when he was the referee at the Richland County Juvenile Court where I was an employee. I found him to be thoughtful, serious about his work and committed to his community. Above all that I knew Jeff to be a kind, funny, generous, and warm person. I feel honored to have worked with and known him (and played some golf together). I wish his family comfort and peace at this time.

  40. Butch Hamilton & Family

    Truly feel honored to know Mr. Payton. He was always down-to-earth and welcoming to our family. It was always a delight to be in his presence. We send our love to Mrs. Payton, Erin, Jeffrey and the entire Payton family. May God bless you all.

  41. Drs Holbrook & Rhonda Riles, Jr.

    Judge “Jeff” Payton was truly one of a kind. Our prayers will continue for you Carol as well as the rest of the the Payton family. Continue to remember the good times. As we live and breathe , Judge “Jeff” Payton will always live in our hearts and our minds.
    Please accept our sincere condolences.

  42. The Lindsay and Butler Family

    Our sincere condolences to the Payton Family.

  43. Jeff was one of the “good guys.” I know he will be missed. My condolences to his family.

  44. Justine McKenzie

    My prayers of comfort are extended for the entire extended family at this time. Also praying that Carla and all who are traveling will have safe travel to share the wonderful memories of this great and beloved man.

  45. Elder Carrell Gandy

    To the Family of Judge Jeff Payton,
    I am sorry for your loss and saddened to hear. Carol I will keep you and your family in prayer..
    May the grace of God be with you.
    Elder Carrell Gandy and family

  46. Sylvia Boyd & Family

    Sending our Condolences and Prayers to the family. He will truly be missed.

  47. My condolences to the family,

  48. Archie Bransford

    My deepest condolences to the family. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Jeff was a true prince and a gentleman. We first met in 1995 on a Myrtle Beach golf trip. I will never forget his friendly and diplomatic demeanor as he stewarded everyone through the day-to-day golf outings.

    Even though he was unable to make the trip over the last few years, he and I maintained contact and shared our experiences and family goings on. After each phone conversation I always felt inspired and upbeat and blessed to have Jeff as a friend.

    Jeff Payton you will be greatly missed. May you rest in peace.

    Archie Bransford

  49. Stefanie and James Caldwell

    Prayers and Condolences to Mrs. Payton and the family .

  50. To My Uncle Jeff

    My condolences to all family and friends and all who’ve had the opportunity to share his great wealth in knowledge and hope for a better future.

  51. Shade' Ojibe (Jeanne English)

    What a Friend! Since Jeff and I were children at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, until he made his transition, our friendship was solid. I, like many others embraced his kindness, warmth and generosity. I will miss seeing his smile and hearing his laughter. I consider myself Blessed to have had Jeff as a close friend throughout my life. He will remain in my heart forever.
    Condolence to Carol, Erin, Jeffrey, grandchildren and all members of Jeff’s family. May GOD permit us to continue to spread Jeff’s love to others. GOD BLESS.

  52. Rev. Crystal J. Payne

    To The Peyton Family: My heart went out to you when I heard about the passing of Judge Payton.

    Please accept my sincere condolences.
    John 14:1-6

  53. Elder George Stevenson

    My deepest condolences to the Family I knew Judge Payton most of my life He was always encouraging the young men and myself included REST IN POWER

  54. The Bessick Family

    To Carol and the entire Peyton Family: Renee and our entire Bessick Bunch send our condolences and deepest love ❤️ to each of you. There are not enough words that can describe your feelings of losing Jeff, however, there is a word from the Lord.
    “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalms 116:15. We love y’all!

  55. Elder Tillman Franklin Jr

    GOD Bless And Keep you all as the Family of this One of our finest
    North-Enders .TOO GOD be THE GLORY GREAT THINGS HE has DONE ❣️ FAMILY ALWAYS ELDER Tillman Franklin Jr and Missy Phyllis Franklin and family RIP My Brother ❗

  56. Jeff was such a fine example of a great human being. Kind, loving, fun and a friend and shining example to so many! Enjoyed are work experiences at the Juvenile Court and fun times at lunches and golfing! Condolences to Carol and all the family! ❤️

  57. Elaine Davis & Family

    To Carol & Family
    We send our heartfelt condolences to you, May God give you comfort, strength, and peace that passes all understanding as you mourn the loss of your loved one. Much love.

  58. No words can come close to expressing my love toward the family. I pray that in days to come, conversations will take place, remembrances, laughs and embraces to continue the depths of our love.

  59. To the Family of the Honorable Jeff Payton:

    Thinking of you with sincere and heartfelt condolences. I am holding you close in my thoughts in this painful time. Jeff was a good soul and will be missed by all.

  60. frederick atwater

    Condolence to Carol,Erin , Jeffery An the rest of t he Payton family. L’ll miss you my friend. Hope to see you on the !8th Hole one day.

  61. Mary A Dismuke and Family

    My Deepest Condolences to the Family

  62. Kathi Cutlip Mills

    Dear Carol and Family.
    Jeff was a wonderful and caring person. I am honored to have known him. He loved playing golf and supported many organizations by participating in their golf outings. Know matter where you saw him, he always greeted me with a warm smile and greeting. May God give you comfort and support. You have my deepest condolences. You have lost a loving husband and father and the community has lost a great friend and role model.

  63. Deanna West-Torrence

    To the Payton family,

    Sending love and our deepest condolences. May your memories of Jeff bring you laughter, comfort and joy.

    Love you all,
    Deanna & family

  64. Carolyn Staples Henderson

    God Bless and keep You Carol and family RIP Judge Jeff Payton

  65. Daniel Hardwick

    I worked for Judge Payton in the court. He was passionate about showing fairness to all people. He was a truly decent man and fun person as was his faithful assistant Mildred. He gave of himself for the benefit of others and strived to be true to his beliefs. May his family know Peace and Comfort in the pain of separation. his impact will live on in the generations of people he touched in order to make the world a better place because he walked among us.


  67. Carol my condolences to you and your family’s loss,stay strong & blessed with God’s love.

  68. Dorothy Caldwell

    Heartfelt prayers and condolences to Carol and the family. May God wrap His loving arms around each of you during this season of bereavement and provide comfort and strength now and in the days to come.

  69. Garry L Rembert

    My Condolences to His families..He was the only Judge @ Friend that let me knew that I did not have any kids in Mansfield, Ohio..LOL. Gone but not forgotten..Rest in Peace my Brother@ Friend.

  70. Tiffany Mitchell

    My heart goes out to the family of Judge Jeff Payton. I will forever be grateful for the encouraging words he said to me. I’m praying for you all as you struggle with this immense loss.

  71. Jabeous & Valoryn (Whitelock) Weaver

    With a heavy heart, we pray the family finds peace and comfort with Christ as you navigate this new season. A season of physical suffering turned into mourning is a difficult transition but we pray you have strength in hope that Mr. Payton is now dancing at the feet of Christ.

    Sending much love and comfort over this family.

  72. Jeff was an outstanding example in every way for the black youth of today. Deepest sympathy to the family for your loss?

  73. Romanuel and Alice Diane Bronson

    Words cannot express the sorrow I fill in the loss of a remarkable man that touched my life in my early adolescent years. Our sincere condolences to Carol and Family.

  74. Tanisha J Haynes

    Sending my condolences to the Payton family. My heart goes out to you all during this difficult time. I pray that you find comfort in one another and in the memories of your time with Mr. Payton.

  75. Erin, sending love and deepest condolences to you and your family during this time. I feel fortunate to have met your father and know his love of life lives on in you and your family.

  76. Dear Carol and Family
    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Jeff. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family. May God grant peace to you in your time of sorrow. My family sends love and will be praying for you.
    Love you

  77. To the family, my prayers and deepest sympathy for your loss. Carol, may God continue to bless you and the family with strength and endurance during this difficult time.

  78. So sorry for the passing of Jeff Payton. He was such a good friend to me and my family. What a blessing and I’ll see you on the other side.

  79. Shade' Ojibe (Jeanne English)

    What a Friend! Jeff and I met as children in Mt. Calvary Baptist Church and throughout the years our friendship remained solid. I, as everyone who met him, embraced his kindness, warmth and generosity. I will miss his smile and hearing his laughter. I considered myself Blessed to have had him as a close friend.
    Condolence to Carol, Erin, Jeffrey Jr., the grandchildren and all the members of Jeff’s family.
    May GOD permit us to continue to show Jeff’s love to one another. GOD Bless.

  80. Jeff was a treasure. I valued his friendship and always enjoyed our visits. I had the honor to work with his two children as their teacher. They are amazing young people. A true legacy to their wonderful parents. Carol, my heart goes out to you in this time of grief. You are in my thoughts. As you know Jeff and I shared a love for a certain cars. If I can be of any help to you in this area Please let me know. I will be honored to help. My heart felt sympathy.

  81. Wilma and James Watkins

    To Carol and the Payton Family, Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal. We the Watkins family will really miss Jeff. Our story and connection is too long to print. We are praying for the family. Much Love. Wilma and Smooth (James)

  82. Sending my Condolences to The Payton Family! Such wonderful memories growing up; Jeff was indeed an Amazing man. He definitely set a standard in Richland County!

    Love Gilia

  83. Carol & Family
    Our Condolences to You
    May the Lord give You Comfort and Strength, during this difficult time.
    Sorry for Your Loss
    Prayer & Love
    Barbara Simms Family

  84. My condolences to the family

  85. To Carol and family it is with heartfelt sadness that I offer sincere condolences on the passing of a good friend. I have many memories of growing up together on Harker and Daisy Streets. I send love to you and prayer from the God who comforts us in all our trials-2 Cor. 1.4

  86. To the Family of The Honorable Jeff Payton,
    Carol and the Payton family, you are all in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult and trying time. Jeff will be remembered as a kind and compassionate person who touched our hearts and lives in so many ways. Take care, God is still on the throne.
    With Love,
    Ruthie Johnson and Family

  87. Jeff, Roz, Willie Crittenden and Zonie McCowan

    We send our sincere sympathy to the entire family!

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