Africa: Family Remembrance – C. Payne Lucas (1933 – 2018)

C. Payne Lucas (1933-2018)
26 September 2018

Following is the obituary issued by the family of C. Payne Lucas, c-founder and longtime president of Africare

C. Payne Lucas (Payne) died peacefully the morning of September 15, 2018 of advanced dementia.

Payne was born in Spring Hope, North Carolina of two formidable parents, William Russell Lucas and Minnie Hendricks Lucas. They raised to maturity twelve of fourteen children.

As the seventh son and twelfth born, Payne benefited from the Lucas' own "village". Of them he spoke lovingly and with deep gratitude.

Payne graduated from the C. C. Spaulding High School in 1951. He excelled academically and was in school activities and according to his High School Alumni Association excelled in baseball. In the Drama Club, led by sister-in-law Katherine Neal Lucas, he developed his oratorical skills.

He honed them through representing C. C. Spaulding High School in various oratorical contests. It was this State-wide exposure that attracted the attention of the NC Eastern Area NAACP Representative. As a high school junior Payne became the Youth Director for the NAACP East Carolina Voter Registration Drive.

Payne entered the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES) in the fall of 1951. He was inducted into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (Alpha Omega Chapter) in 1952. His studies were interrupted when he enlisted in the United States Air Force.

He served from 1952 to 1956 returning to UMES to complete his bachelor's degree in history in 1959. He attended American University graduating in 1961 with a master's degree in Government. During that summer, he interned at the Department of Defense in an Executive Recruitment program, volunteered briefly at the Democratic National Committee until he secured a position at the Peace Corps.

There he served first as a desk officer for the Africa Region and concluded his Peace Corps years as the first Director for the Office of Returned Volunteers. During this decade (1961-1971) he held Peace Corps assignments in Togo (assistant Country Director), Niger (Country Director), and in Washington, DC (Deputy Director of the Africa Region and as Director of the Africa Region).


Payne married the former Freddie Emily Hill, Ph.D. of Baltimore, Maryland in 1964. Payne returned to Niger with his bride, Freddie, and remained until summoned by Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver to Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C.

Payne's Peace Corps service was recognized by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. A White House statement issued July 19,1967 announced the six recipients of the 1967 President's Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Award. Payne was one of the recipients. President Johnson called the awardees "… remarkable men that are modern pioneers."

President Johnson continued, "We live today in a world of such rapid change in science, international affairs, and socio-economic patterns that traditional, inherited knowledge is no longer sufficient to solve urgent problems. We must seek new answers from people who have sought and mastered new knowledge, from people unafraid to voice constructive discontent with tried but no longer true methods, from people with the energy and the initiative to break through the long-accepted boundaries of action. Such are the six selected for this high civilian honor, and we are both fortunate and proud to have public service…".

Payne is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Freddie Hill Lucas, Ph.D., devoted daughter, Hillary Hendricks Lucas, loving grandson, Walter Victor Rouse, II and adoring granddaughter, Cody Madison Lucas. Also surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Dorothy Lucas Whitley and Mrs. Augusta Lucas Jones, two sisters-in-law, Mrs. Katherine Neal Lucas, and Mrs. Shirley Taylor Hill, one brother-in-law, Mr. Talmadge Layman Hill, Godson, Mr. Thomas Carrington, numerous loving extended family members, oldest friend, Mr. Clyde B. Richardson, dear friends and loyal associates.

Payne was predeceased by his son, C. Payne Lucas, Jr. (d.'13) and daughter, Therese Raymonde Lucas, (d.'17).


Chairman, Africare Board of Directors, Steve Cashin had entered into the Congressional Record (2010) an Africare tribute to C. Payne Lucas. An excerpt follows.

A recent HELP Commissioner, Co-Founder and President Emeritus of Africare, veteran of numerous U.S. Presidential delegations to Africa, former Africa Regional Director of the Peace Corps, speaker, writer and activist - C. Payne Lucas, Sr. has brought a unique blend of passion and steadfast commitment to his 50-year career in African affairs.

He has been honored by several presidents of the United States as well as by leaders of more than two dozen nations of Africa, including Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Senegal and Zambia. He received the 1984 U.S. Presidential End Hunger Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement "in the effort to achieve a world without Hunger."

On receiving that award, Lucas was described as "a can-do optimist who combines the persuasive powers of a tent evangelist and a traveling salesman". In 1993, then Rep. Kwesi Mfume (D. Md.), in his capacity as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, praised Lucas's "labors in developing nations throughout the continent of Africa. But just as important as your work, Mfume continued, is your leadership by example, which demonstrates the difference one human being can make when committed to the cause of human dignity and global justice."

Lucas left the Peace Corps in 1971 to facilitate the establishment of Africare in Washington, DC. Africare House, a former DC School building was rehabilitated under the direction of recently deceased architect Joseph Handworker. Payne was pleased to have African 'Heads of States', their Embassies, and other constituents find a home at Africare.

From its inauspicious beginnings, until today, Africare has become the largest and oldest predominately African American non-governmental organization (NGO). Since its founding, Africare has invested over $1 billion in development-related projects in thirty-five African nations.

Over his career spanning many decades, Payne accrued numerous accolades. He cherished them all; yet recognized that these expressions of appreciation were also for the dedicated Africare staff, led by Joseph Kennedy, Ph.D. whose dedication, and loyalty are renown.

There are innumerable other steadfast Africare loyalists, whose spirit and actions have been impactful and for whom Payne had great respect and love. One of these, Bishop John Walker, became a close personal friend and mentor.

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