After a six year battle with cancer, 19-year-old Angela Payne of Vilonia, gave up her brave fight at about 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 6.
"She’s dancing in heaven now," said her aunt, Linda Payne. "She’s out of pain, and I’m sure the Lord met her and said, ‘Well done, my little angel.’"
At the age of 13, Angela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Angela was known for her "sweet soul," contagious smile and unwavering faith. Most everyone in Vilonia was acquainted with her. Some attended school or church with her or they knew her from her accomplishments.
Angela received several recognitions during her life. In 2012, she was the Vilonia High School Homecoming Queen. Also in 2012, she received the Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth of the Year award for her work promoting Relay for Life and Arkansas Children’s Hospital through her pillowcase ministry.
Angela graduated from Vilonia High School in 2013 with plans to attend Arkansas State University at Beebe, majoring in nursing. To help her reach that goal, in 2013 she was the recipient of the Cathy and Gerald B. Martindill Fellowship Award presented for study in a medical or health-related field. Also in 2013, she received a CARTI Kids Dennis Jungmeyer Scholarship Award.
According to Angela’s friends, if you met her once, you weren’t a stranger. It was said that she basically classified everyone she met into one of three categories, a part of her family, a friend or "a really close friend."
Amanda Bowman referred to Angela as "always her close friend." Angela, she said, knew how to light up a room and had the "most beautiful soul I have ever met. I think about a young woman who was full of life. She lived each day to its fullest. She was never someone who wanted to be sitting, she always wanted to be up and going. She was the perfect example of a burst of energy."
Jonathan Cofer said she was like a little sister to him. "The number one thing that people think about when they think of Angela Payne was her faith in God. I’m so thankful to have known Angela," he said. "I could not have given a better example of what a Christian life should look like. She never lost sight of God, and never lost faith, even in the scariest of times."
Austyn Brown said her heart is heavy for Angela’s family and a community that loved her. "She was definitely the toughest young lady I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, Brown said. "Every time I saw her at the football games she never let her pain show as she was cheering on our team. You didn’t have to know Angela personally to know who she was and what kind of person she was. Our town loved her.
"She always had a smile on her face and changed the lives of so many as she spoke about her love for God and lived his word."
Sarah Bradford was among the seniors who graduated with Angela. Everyone that knew Angela, Bradford said, was her friend.
"One thing I know, Angela wouldn’t want us to cry. She would want us to remember all the good she has done, all the hearts she has touched and all the people she has inspired to never give up. She was strong, Eagle strong."