EVERETT — It seemed a befitting tribute. After all, Deputy Stewart “Chip” Payne helped design the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office firearms training center.
He cared for it as if it were his second home, County Councilman Ken Klein said.
It is where Payne trained his colleagues, year after year.
Payne, 57, died in January due to a medical problem. On sunny Wednesday afternoon, his fellow officers gathered for a brief ceremony to honor him by naming the gun range off Cathcart Way near Highway 9 in his memory.
Sheriff Ty Trenary said his office was flooded with requests to name the training center after Payne.
“It couldn’t be more appropriate,” the sheriff said.
Trenary imagined Payne beaming with pride but perhaps a little embarrassed by the attention.
Sheriff’s Major Tony Aston knew Payne for 30 years.
“Everybody loved Chip,” Aston said after the ceremony. “You couldn’t find anybody who would say a bad word about that guy.”
He also remembered him as an effective firearms instructor.
“He had a way about him that was so nurturing,” Aston said.
After graduating from Meadowdale High School and serving a stint in the U.S. Army, Payne landed a position with the sheriff’s office. During that time, he became an expert on firearms and was an emergency vehicle driver-training instructor.
Besides law enforcement officers, he trained college students, Explorer Scouts and other sheriff’s employees on gun safety.
Payne had a knack for putting people at ease and helping them improve, even if they were having a bad day at the range, Trenary said.
Payne had long dreamed of the day the range would get a new home, the sheriff said.
That happened five years ago.
And, as of Wednesday, it’s called the Chip Payne Training Center.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.