LAS CRUCES – Patrick “Paddy” Payne, 49, seemed to be having a good day on Saturday morning as he set up his food truck downtown for the Las Cruces farmer’s and craft market.
After nearly seven years, Payne and his wife, Janet Beatty-Payne, announced earlier in the week on August 24, that they planned to sell the truck and withdraw from the business.
Long days spent at the grill inside the truck were wreaking havoc on him; Additionally, reduced activity during the COVID-19 pandemic had given his family a taste of more time together, especially on weekends. They decided it was a good time for a shift.
Four months to the day before his 50th birthday, Payne greeted other vendors on Saturday as he parked and began connecting to electricity along Main Street downtown. Then, out of nowhere, he suffered a massive heart attack.
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Market staff responded quickly and a registered nurse immediately began CPR, but “he was just gone,” Beatty-Payne said.
Although he did not suffer from serious health problems, she said her late husband’s family had heart problems. Besides his wife and stepson, Payne is survived by his father, brother and two half-sisters.
The “paddy wagon” was a career change for Payne, who had lived in Las Cruces since 1990 when he moved here to study at New Mexico State University. Later, the aspiring actor and teacher received a master’s degree in theater from the University of New Orleans in 2010.
“He came back with a passion for cooking like he had never had before,” said Beatty-Payne.
This was the year she started her relationship with Patrick, and he returned to town passionate about combining New Orleans cuisine with New Mexico peppers.
After trying unsuccessfully to find a teaching position at NMSU and participating in salsa competitions, Payne has ruled out applying for teaching positions elsewhere. (“He never wanted to live anywhere else,” she said.) Partly inspired by the movie “Chef,” Beatty-Payne suggested that he put on his cook’s apron and go into business.
They tied the knot in the summer of 2014, weeks before they acquired the truck that would become the Green Chile Paddy Wagon, distinctive for its brisket and chili combinations and a mostly sticker-covered surface.
Along with its popular breast fondues and burritos, the Paddy Wagon menu included quesadillas with eggs, bacon, chili and cheese, a “Paddy” cheese fondant with bacon and green chili over rye and fries. hand cut with Creole seasoning.
Payne has occasionally been involved in local drama productions, mostly with the Las Cruces Community Theater where his wife plays a leading role, but Beatty-Payne said her husband has settled in life better as a gregarious food cook. truck who loved to joke around with customers – and as the head caregiver of Spencer, her son from a previous marriage, a special needs child who is now 19 and in high school.
Their business strategy has focused on local festivals and events, with the downtown farmer’s market remaining their focal point and Payne’s favorite spot, she said.
After removing the truck, Payne planned to spend more time painting in his garage workshop and exploring writing. Their home in Las Cruces sports his brightly colored paintings, some on canvas and others on old vinyl records.
Visitors to their home often left with small gifts of his art, his wife said.
The truck was parked to the side of the house, still covered in stickers that reflected the couple’s favorite rock bands and movies, as well as the Muppets and other characters Spencer loved.
Over the years, customers have added their own stickers to the truck, almost enveloping its surface. Beatty-Payne said he allowed the additions because they fit with the truck’s slogan: “Everything you love”.
Payne was known to show different sides to people through various endeavors and challenges in his life; but Beatty-Payne said her defining impression of Paddy was her commitment to being the stepfather of a child in need of important daily care and attention.
It was proof, she said, that Patrick “was a good man where even a lot of good men fail.”