Payne, Flora Baird

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Flora Doris Baird Phelps Gutshall Payne, (81), of Timberville, VA, passed away unexpectedly on October 27, 2023, Timberview Crossing Assisted Living Community. Flora was born on July 17, 1942 to the late Virginia Tech Business Professor, Guidon T. Baird “Duke” and the late Emma Moyer Baird in Roanoke, VA.

She grew up in Blacksburg with her late brother Guidon T Baird, II “Guy”. After graduating from Blacksburg High School, she went on to graduate from National Business College in Secretarial Science. Flora would meet Eugene G. Phelps of Pulaski on a blind date, and they would marry on February 18, 1961, in Sparta North Carolina. Together they had four children in almost 6 years while living in Blacksburg. In 1969, they moved to the only house at the time on Robin Road in Christiansburg where Flora would spend the next 47 years of her life.

Flora was a survivor of breast cancer, an exemplary homemaker, secretary to our father and a mother that sacrificed much for her children who she loved dearly and celebrated all of their accomplishments in life. She had many talents that included sewing, dress making, gardening, singing, knitting, baking apple pies and could type on a manual typewriter faster than one could imagine.

After Gene’s passing in November 1996, Flora would go on to find fond friendship and marriages, first with Eddie Gutshall of Christiansburg in 2001 which led to Sunshine tours, travel, greater church service and the building of a new home, on Robin Road, large enough to house family gatherings with the many grandchildren they shared.

After Eddie’s sudden passing in December 2008, Flora would once again find joy in companionship and marriage of William H. Payne, Jr. “Bill” in December 2017. Bill, although older, had tremendous spirit and drive for knowledge, exploration and everything Virginia Tech. This Golden Hokie brought Flora to many Virginia Tech football games, Hokie Club dinners and other social events.

She loved gatherings with both families, including tailgating before home games, holidays and special occasions, often at their home in Warm Hearth Village, the Payne family cabin at Smith Mountain Lake, or at any one of her children’s homes. Her children felt blessed to have both Eddie, Bill and their respective families in Flora’s life.

Flora enjoyed Sunday school, Sunday Worship, being involved in the Choir, Glee Club and Joy Singers and was committed fully to their service. She also served as a volunteer at a local voting precinct. Sadly, after Bill’s passing in January 2019, she would have to endure the pandemic’s less spoken symptoms of the disease; isolation and inactivity due to suspension of public gatherings.

She noticeably declined during this time and entered The Showalter Center (TSC) at Warm Hearth Retirement Village in February 2022, in an effort to find her footing, regain her social self and physical strength. After 10 months it was determined that she would need more care than what could be provided at TSC so she decided to move to Timberview Crossing Assisted Living in Timberville, Va to be closer to her youngest son and her 2 daughters. She received the best care and created more friendships over the past year enjoying her view
of the social vitality of life in a vibrant assisted living community. The family is forever grateful for the love and care she received from the wonderful staff of Timberview Crossing, it was home to her. Most will remember her big smile on her face and unique laughter. She never met a stranger.

She is survived by her children; Alice Castellano (Matthew) of Germantown, MD, George Phelps of Pulaski, VA, Cara Blemings (Kenneth) of Morgantown, WV, Brian Phelps (Gina) of Harrisonburg, VA. Flora was very proud of all of her grandchildren: Stephanie (Stephen) McKim, Joseph Castellano, Benjamin Blemings, Elizabeth Blemings, Logan Phelps, Megan Phelps, Jocelyne Phelps, and Jovie Phelps. She is also survived by sister-in-law Li Baird, brother-in-law John Bell, Bill’s children William H. Payne (Martha), Dr. Albert Payne (Sandra), and Patricia Lightner (Bruce), and Eddie’s daughter Sally Archibald (Mark).

Service will be held at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Christiansburg on Saturday November 4, 2023 at 11:00 am, Reverend Mike Derflinger will preside, in Christiansburg on Saturday November 4, 2023, at 11:00am. Visitation will precede the service at 10:00 am and a reception in the fellowship hall will follow the service. Flora will be buried with her first husband, Eugene, at Thornspring United Methodist Church Cemetery at 2 pm in Pulaski Virginia for anyone that would like to attend.

Although she had many charities she loved and supported, per her request, in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Flora Payne’s name to St. Paul United Methodist Church at 220 W Main Street, Christiansburg, VA 24073