Congressman Donald Payne passed away last week. I attended his funeral service on Wednesday. It was a remarkable tribute to a man who gave his life to public service.
The funeral was an incredible celebration of his life. Governor Christie, President Clinton, Mayor Booker, Senator Lautenberg, Attorney General Holder, ambassadors and numerous federal and state government leaders were in attendance, as were over a thousand individuals who in some way were touched by Mr. Payne’s actions.
He was a dedicated alumnus of Seton Hall, remaining highly involved since graduating in 1957. He participated and spoke at reunions, visited campus often and attended numerous basketball games, rooting on his beloved Pirates every time he could.
He also helped Seton Hall move its federal government relations program ahead. Each year for the past 8 years he hosted our annual “Hall on the Hill” reception in the Gold Room on Capitol Hill. The event has cumulatively drawn well over a thousand individuals who gather at this event to celebrate Seton Hall.
Mr. Payne was also instrumental in securing significant federal funding for Seton Hall’s Science and Technology Center. Through it, our students have and will be able to learn using state-of-the-art technology to complement their classroom studies.
It’s not every university that has an alumnus for its congressperson, but Seton Hall did. Donald Payne remained involved. He always appreciated his education and how the experiences he gained helped shape him to become the leader and role model to so many residents of his beloved city of Newark and beyond.