American Veteran 01

Victor E. Payton, MD

June 3, 1948 ~ September 25, 2021 (age 73)

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In 1971, Gwendolyn was accepted into the Medical College of Georgia Student Educational Enrichment Program (SEEP). Gwendolyn  earned a BS degree in Medical Technology from MCG. In 1993, our son, Kurlen, attended the SEEP program, which led to him attending MeHarry Medical School, completing his training at Johns Hopkins and becoming a neonatologist. Please designate your donations to be made in memory of Victor E. Payton, M.D. Pediatrician, Medical College of Georgia, 1975 Grad., to Student Educational Enrichment Program (SEEP) via

Thank you for the overwhelming, outpouring of love and support!
Blessings & Thank you, The Payton Family


Victor Emmanuel Payton, was born June 3, 1948 in Savannah, Georgia to the late Lois Smith Payton Russell and the late Reverend Hezekiah R.  Payton, of Statesboro Georgia. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Command Sargent Major Morris R. Russell of Savannah, Georgia, who raised him as his own son and Gwendolyn’s mother, Johnnie Mae Middleton of Macon, Georgia., who loved him as a son. 

Victor attended Saint Pius 10 High School of Savannah and finished as Salutatorian of the Class of 1967. One of his proudest moments during those years was when he became an Eagle Scout at age 15, spurred on by his loving mother. 

In the spring of 1968, Victor met the love of his life, Gwendolyn Middleton, on the Macon campus of Mercer University. They were  married in June 1971.  

While a student at Mercer, Victor spent his summers at the University of Tennessee working as a student researcher in chemistry. He also worked at Proctor & Gamble of Cincinatti, Ohio during the summer of his undergraduate years. Victor graduated from Mercer University in 1971 with a degree in chemistry. He was accepted into the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia. After graduating from Medical School, he completed  the Residency programs in Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine. 

Influenced by his stepfather,  Command Sargent Major Morris R. Russell, Victor joined the ROTC program while at Mercer and enlisted into the US Army after Medical School and became a Captain. He was stationed in Hawaii at Tripler Army Medical Center and Ft. McClellan Army Base. He was awarded the Sharp Shooter Medal and Medal of Commendation while serving his country for 3 years as a General Medical officer. 

After several years of working in Emergency Medicine, Victor and Gwendolyn decided to settle in Athens, Georgia to start his pediatric practice.

In his schooling and his work, as an African American, Victor was determined to be successful despite many obstacles and challenges. He worked as an Emergency room physician in Athens and Medical Director at Rivers Crossing, a state facility for special needs kids. Simultaneously, he moonlighted in a nearby county in order to provide for his family and personally fund  his pediatric practice.  In the Fall of 1982, Victor established a private practice becoming the first African American Pediatrician in Athens. 

While in practice for nearly 40 years with Gwendolyn at his right hand, he was on staff at both local hospitals. Prior to contracting leukemia, Victor was President of BrightPaths of Athens, a community based non-profit, dedicated to preventing child abuse through positive parenting, education, support, and public awareness. In his pediatric practice and care of his patients, Victor is most known for his compassion, tenacity in diagnosing and treating illness, listening to the parents and lecturing his young patients!! 

Victor was an avid swimmer, pickleball player, but his favorite sport was tennis. He was a member of the Northeast Georgia Tennis Association and the Athens Pickleball Association.

Above all else, Victor loved being a husband and father, he was driven by his own life experiences to raise his sons and daughter to be proud of who they are as they respect and serve others. When first meeting “Dr. P”, his wit and dry humor was his most memorable quality. From giving you a fictitious name to replying, “Gwen who, I don’t know a Gwen.” He always kept you guessing!!! 

As believers in God, Victor and Gwendolyn have worshiped and served in the Athens Church of Christ for over 30 years.

Victor is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Gwendolyn; four adult children, Khary Payton of Burbank, California, Dr. Kurlen (Laura Rocchio) Payton of Los Angeles, California, Kurtis (Amanda) Payton of Columbus, Ohio and Kalere (Rögnvaldur) Payton- Guðmundsson of Stockholm, Sweden;  nine grandchildren, Karter, Maya, Elena, Kian, Claudia, Aurelia, Valkyrja, Harka Mae, and Eli who cherished him and affectionately called him “Poppop”. He is also survived by two brothers, Rudolph Payton of Savannah, Georgia and Paul (Shirley) Russell of Denton, Texas; two sisters, Wanda Payton of Lawrenceville, Georgia and Theresa Payton of Atlanta, Georgia; devoted cousins, Sonja Smith & Family of Savannah, Julie Manska of Los Angeles, California, Joette Marks of Santa Monica,California, and Eric Payton of Atlanta, Georgia, Joy Bryant of Charlotte, North Carolina; three brother-in-laws, Curtis (Nettie) Middleton, Kenneth Middleton, and Glenn Middleton all of Macon; three sister-in-laws, Delores (Alfred) Jones of Lizella, Georgia, JoAnn Middleton of Macon, Georgia and Regina (Firmon) McDuffie of Brunswick, Georgia; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

We are eternally grateful to the extended family and friends whose love for Victor overflows.


Social Distancing Outdoor VISITATION
October 15, 2021

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Athens Church of Christ
3720 Mars Hill Rd.
Watkinsville, GA 30677

Virtual Memorial Service
October 17, 2021

2:00 PM
Athens Church of Christ Website or Facebook Page
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Video is available for this event

Graveside Service & Interment (Private Due to the COVID Pandemic)

Macon Memorial Park Cemetery
3969 Mercer University Dr.
Macon, GA 31204

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