Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Carl Payne, RIP -- August 10, 2021

Carl Payne, 10-time winner of the Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest, transit operator, police officer, San Francisco ambassador and great all-around guy, has died. Above we see him giving an exhibition performance at the 2016 contest. He was born in Pittsburgh, but settled in San Francisco after he served in the Marine Corps. 

He went to work for Muni and stayed for 29 years. He spent 28 years working in the Cable Car Division. The only person who has come close to his record of ten Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest championships is Byron Cobb, who has won eight times. Payne travelled the world, appeared with symphony orchestras, and shared his joy for life with everyone. 

While working on the cable cars, Payne became an expert at spotting pickpockets. When he left Muni, he applied to join the San Francisco Police Department. He passed the test, but was told that he was over the maximum age. He sued the department and eventually won. He spent 25 years with the police. After retiring from the SFPD, he became a Golden Gate Park ranger. He had to give that up when he started to have health issues. 

The image above shows him giving an exhibition at the 2013 Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest. Four former champs gave an exhibition at the 2017 contest: Al Quintana (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994), Ken Lunardi (1997, 2002, 2006), Frank Ware (1999, 2004) and Carl Payne (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989).

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