John William “Sunshine Sonny” Payne, 92, of Helena, Arkansas passed away Saturday, February 10, 2018. Mr. Payne was born November 29, 1925 at Helena to the late William G. and Gladys Swope Payne. Sonny was best known as the long-time host of King Biscuit Time, the award-winning radio show which appealed to generations of blues fans and musicians. He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Helena, the American Legion and was also in the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame.
Mr. Payne is survived by six nieces, Mary Gatewood, Pat Traicoff, Lynda “Peachy” Deisher , Glenn Edwards, Becky Wheeler and Anna Hook; three nephews, Nick Page, Leslie Vogel and Eugene “Rusty” Winfield. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Josephine Papa Payne; daughter, Cheryl Payne; three sisters, Rebecca Winfield, Elga Faye Vogel and Fosteen “Teen” Page.
Visitation for “Sunshine Sonny” Payne will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church beginning at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, February 17, 2018, followed by Mass of Christian Burial beginning at 12:00 p.m. A private burial will follow services. Father Benoit Mukamba, CSSp, Father Gilbert Tairo, CSSp and Father James Ibeh, CSSp will officiate.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: St Mary's Catholic Church, 123 Columbia St, Helena, AR 72342 or the King Biscuit Blues Festival, P.O. Box 118, Helena, AR 72342.
Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Helena will direct (870) 572-2571.