Long-Term Willow Grove Couple Set Ground Rules Early: No Gifts of ‘Pots, Pans, or Toasters’

Payne couple
Image via the Payne family at The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Rev. John L. Payne and Patricia Simmons Payne.

A collection of North Philadelphia teens in 1960 provided the chance for John L. Payne and Patricia Simmons to first connect. After a few episodes of her playing hard-to-get, they married in 1963. Kellie Patrick Gates profiled the couple in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was 18 when they met; she was just 16.

Her youth made her reticent, but his gentle patience won out. The first date — set in their Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood — was a movie followed by ice cream.

Thinking that a permanent match may have been possible, the two teens discussed the particulars of a shared life.

“We always felt that communication would be the key,” said John.

They agreed on fundamentals: Even during arguments, no name-calling. And respect always, even down to gifts: no pots, pans, or toasters.

That amity led to a wedding and eventually, three children.

All along the way, Paynes support each other’s aspirations.

Patricia earned her degree from Temple University degree. She augmented that with a master’s from Lincoln University and now works for Northwest Victims Services, an advocacy nonprofit.

John left his manufacturing job, went through ordination, and is now pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Willow Grove.

The couple also moved there in 2000.

More on Rev. John L. and Patricia Simmons Payne is at The Philadelphia Inquirer.


This brief video explains Baptists beliefs under the broader umbrella of Christianity.

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.