As Jason’s father, I felt I needed to tell everyone more about our Jason. So many of you talk about how much you loved and respected him and his work even though you had never met him in person. I must say, everyone that never met him really missed something truly special in life.

Miracle Child: I have to be careful how I tell this or Jason will say, “That’s a little too much information”. When I married Jason’s mom, we were so in love and so happy we decided we wanted a child of our own. We decided to go to Santa Barbara for me to have a reversal, which I did. With Jason’s permission I must tell that while leaving the hospital after surgery and as required, being wheeled out to my car, the wheel chair hit something and I was thrown out onto the parking lot where I did a little “Crawling”. We went back a second time because the first surgery didn’t work, the doctor said my “crawling” was most likely the problem. Afterwards we were told that because of the scar tissue from my “Crawling”, the surgery did not come close to being considered successful. Needless to say, awhile later Debbie became pregnant with our miracle child. Then once our Jason was born on 8/2/82, for the first six months of his life, he threw up everything he ate. His mom looking extremely exhausted from feeding him 24 hours a day just as fast as he vomited just to keep nutrition in him. Being not very strong, at 6 months he went into the hospital with severe dehydration from all the vomiting and the doctors were not very positive. Well his mom stayed next to him holding his hand 24 hours a day (refusing to leave) and I would work and then spend the rest of my time with them and we did a lot of holding each other, praying and crying. But then he started getting stronger and was released and he started eating and he wanted to make up for any food he had missed.

Later in life at; I’m guessing, around two or three my fondest memory is of him coming in our bedroom while we were asleep and coming to my side of the bed each morning and just standing there waiting for my eyes to open. I would have a feeling someone was looking at me, would open my eyes and all I could see was these two blue eyes staring at and the top of his head and he would say in a very deep voice for his age “Feed Me”! It had started, his love to eat and it never ended as did his ability to eat large quantities of food.

I’ll skip over the years of broken bones, cuts etc. that he seemed to do regularly. But I must tell one story. One normal trip to the ER and Jason was being X-rayed; I was in the hallway and a nurse walked by, looked at me and said, “Is Jason in here again?” When he came out I told him it’s getting pretty bad when they’re starting to know you by your first name. He was later nicknamed by many, including hospital staff, the “Tool Man” from the Tim Allen show, who was always hurting himself.

When he was ten he took an AutoCAD class at the local college (I had to sign up so they would let him come with me) and by the second night, everyone in the class including the instructor would just stand around Jason and watch him work (he had read the entire book and mastered all the “beginning” skills in one week).

At thirteen Jason formed his first company called Sound Technologies. He was doing custom stereo systems as well as alarms; in our driveway. He would have me purchase HDF wood so he could use the table saw and cut custom base boxes that he designed in AutoCAD while calculating the exact cubic feet of air to make sure it was exactly right for the speakers. His older brother had one of these boxes in his car and he went to a local stereo shop and they all wanted to know who had built his box and he told them his brother. They said they want to hire him and he told them he was only 13 and they said, who cares we want him. I remember coming home one day and in our driveway was a one week old Corvette and the seats, console and dash were out of it and lying on our grass. I walked inside and asked his mom if she had seen what I saw and she said, “I talked to Jason and he said not to worry, he knows how to put it back together”. Needless to say it went together perfect and the owner was ecstatic, even though I thought he was a little crazy for trusting a 13 year old with his car. For the next couple of years it was my job to take Jason to Vegas for the Consumer’s Electronic Show. The first year while still 13, he just knew they would throw him out because the minimum age was 18, but I told him so what, let them throw us out if they want. And just like Jason, we got there and he had his itinerary all prepared and he only had about 6 sites he wanted to visit. We arrived at the first site, Memphis Car Audio where he walked in and started looking at all the amps and speakers. Then one of the reps came over and looked at Jason’s name tag to see where he was from. That rep went and got the regional sales rep that covered California, he walked over to Jason and read Jason’s name tag that said; Jason Payne, President, Sound Technologies. Then came Jason’s biggest fear, the dreaded question, “You’re Jason, how old are you?” and by the time we finished that booth, Jason was surrounded by the reps and they were discussing stereo ideas that I truly could not understand a thing Jason was saying. Many of these large prestigious companies made this 13 year old their regional distributor and listed Sound Technologies on their websites after that.

At fourteen he started high school and I have just one short story. His older brother had gone to a private school called Garces Memorial and Jason wanted to follow his brother (he really idolized his brother). Well it was time for freshmen to sign up for school all over the city and Jason’s mom called Garces about signing him up and was informed they required all incoming students to pass an entrance exam and they had already given the test, we were too late. Needless to say Jason was devastated and his mom and I felt extremely stupid. Well, I called his brother to tell him what had happened and he was kind enough to agree with my assessment of my intelligence. Well, unknown to anyone, Jason’s brother went to the President of the school, who new him well, both good and bad but mostly good through his outgoing personality. That day I got a phone call from Ken, my oldest son, telling me to call the President. I said what did you do and he said, “I told him what happened and that they needed to give Jason a chance because he is the smart, good one and not like me”. I called the President and he said that they always keep a couple of spots open for last minute “exceptional” children that decide they want to go to Garces but he would have to score an 80% on their two hour entrance exam and not the normal 70%. Needless to say, Jason took the test and a few days later I received a call from the President and he said, Mr. Payne, we are pleased to let you know Jason will be a freshman at Garces in the class of 2000. I was freaking out but had to ask how he did on the test and the President said; Kenny (Jason’s Brother) was right about Jason, he scored a 98%.

When he was fourteen it was time for me to purchase a new truck for work and he knew his brother had received my 2 year old truck at 16 and he was planning ahead on that. We went to Three Way Chevrolet and looked at what was available. He wanted me to look for a black 4 wheel drive extended cab and I told him I did not ever need a 4 wheel drive truck and in Bakersfield, I would be crazy to purchase anything in black. Two weeks later I picked him up and we drove to Three Way because my new truck was in. We walked up to the fleet area and he stopped and said, “Look, that is what I wanted you to buy” and I told him, but Jason, it’s not 4 wheel drive. We went inside and I finally got my keys and they said they would be right out with my truck. We went out side and Jason was drooling over this black truck and I said, Jason, look at the registration in the window and see who the lucky owner is and he looked then turned and said “It’s mine”. Two years and over 100,000 miles later, it was his. During those two years it was washed and waxed almost every weekend by you guessed it, Jason.

Then sometime around 15 he started loosing interest in wood and started liking metal and 4 wheeling, I don’t know exactly why and when, I just all of a sudden noticed it. [He later told me that he remembered how when he was about 8 I would to take him and his brother 4 wheeling in my S-10 Jimmy and that was some of the best times of his life.] I asked him why the change (because I had purchased all the woodworking equipment he would ever need to continue with his dream) and he just said, “To much liability”. As usual, his mom and I did whatever we could to encourage him to pursue his dreams which meant we now had a Sear’s arc welder and a son that played all day with it in our garage. And you guessed it, he and I were now going to the SEMA show under Industrial Off Road to look at the after market truck areas. OK; another short story about our first year at SEMA. Jason pre-registered both of us (he was president and I was CFO) and we drove to Vegas for the show. When we got to the desk to get our passes they asked for proof in the form of business cards. I was sure I had just driven there for nothing, but not Jason. He said, find me a Kinko’s and we set out to find one. Needless to say, we found a Kinko’s and it took Jason about 2 hours to design and produce 10 business cards for each of us. We went back to the show, went once again to get our name tags and passes but this time they never asked for any kind of verification.

After he graduated from high school (Garces Memorial class of 2000); with his school picture taken with his Fab Tech lifted “2 wheel drive” black truck and no smile just his famous smirk, he started college majoring in Automated Industrial Technology and Quality Control Systems. He took the required class plus he took every class in AutoCAD, welding, automotive and machining they offered and his mom and I would get notes and calls from his instructors about how much they loved having Jason in their classes. The term “unbelievable work ethic” was always included in their comments. He completed every requirement to receive 5 different degrees except a required speech class that he tried several times and just couldn’t handle it. He would always say, “why do I need a degree, I can do more than any of those graduates”. After leaving college the head of the department called me and asked what Jason was doing and wanting to tell me how honored all the instructors always felt having Jason in their classes. Then they started calling him and us about wanting Jason to come back and finish his one class so he could become an instructor at the college. Jason always told them that he just couldn’t do it plus he had expensive habits that required him to work. Then the college changed their instructor requirements for only the industrial arts department so Jason could immediately qualify and they started asking again, but he told them “thank you for the offer but I just couldn’t put up with the students and their laziness and poor work ethics”. After that they gave up and Jason just kept learning and growing on his own. Oh, I forgot to mention that while in college on 10/09/2001 he received both his general and electrical contractor’s licenses.

At the same time I had retired and he and I started purchasing old fixer-up homes and we had a great partnership. I provided the money to buy the house and material and Jason did “everything” else, except painting, “I hate painting”, he would say. Oh I forgot, I was the cleanup crew, Jason didn’t like that either, it was a waste of his time and someone else could do that. As Jason and I sold the houses he worked on, our garage started growing tools and machinery. It was at this time he purchased from a farmer a perfectly good 4 wheel drive one ton white double cab truck that had to have only single wheels on the back. Unknown to me, he had many plans for this truck as you all know.

A new period in his life started when he was rear ended one day while driving home. He was not hurt but his beloved truck was messed up pretty badly. We had it towed home and I asked him what he was going to do and he said “I have plans”. After collecting a small settlement he went to work. I came home and he had removed everything behind the cab except the frame. I asked him what he was doing and he gave me his standard answer, “stuff”. After that I had the privilege to go with Jason to Off Road Unlimited (which later offered Jason jobs several times) and we picked up his solid axle conversion. That was the start of many “conversions” up until his death, it was his baby, and it was HIM.

From that point on most of you have followed his work on his beloved monster and his Dodge dually tow rig. With that I will end this with a few notes about his last few years. A couple of years ago he went to work for Martin and Patty Croad (who became his second parents) as an electrician and shortly afterwards they called and asked our permission to offer to give the company to Jason when they retired in a few years. We just said it’s up to Jason, so they met with him and made the offer. He came home in his typical calm way and said, “the Croads just told me they want me to have their company when they retire in a few years” and I asked, well what did you say? And with his usual smirk he said “I said sure” and he walked out. Over the short time Jason has worked at Croad Electric they have accumulated numerous letters from clients showing their appreciation for Jason’s ability and work ethic. Jason would regularly come home and say, “Well they got another letter about me, I’m just so loved” and with a smirk he would walk out. Recently we were talking about an Industrial Park that MS Walker & Associates is just starting and I told him I was going to get a lot and building instead of my commission so he could have his Industrial Off Road shop and he said he wanted the shop but not a business. I asked him why and he said, “A friend of mine up north has a shop and he told me that when you have a business like that it stops being a hobby and starts being a job and I don’t want that”.

On Jason’s 25th birthday recently I went to get him a small normal birthday gift, a tool of some kind. While walking through Lowes I kept looking at the cordless reciprocating saws and I kept thinking Jason would love one of those but all they had were low quality brands in stock. So I asked the sales person what was the best one they carried and he said DeWalt and I said well that’s just a Black and Decker with different colors (Jason told me that) and he said “well I guess you’re right”. I asked, what about Milwaukee and he said we could look at the catalog. He turned a few pages and there it was, the biggest, baddest, most powerful cordless anywhere, a 28 volt cordless Sawzall and it came in a kit with a hammer drill. I thought; man this must be way over budget so I left without buying anything. A few days later I went back to see just how much it would cost for the saw only and I was told it was too new and they had no pricing so I asked them to find out. Again several days passed and I had not heard anything, so I went back and again they said they were having trouble getting a price. So this time I went to a friend in of all departments, Kitchen Cabinets and asked her to get me a price. The next morning she called and left a message that my order was ready in the computer and to just stop by and pay for it. Again, no price! I went by there that night and told them I had an order to pay for and they brought it up and told me how much and I swallowed real hard but I kept thinking I need to buy this now and not wait for Christmas or something, so I ordered it. It came in the day after Jason’s birthday and I called him at work and asked him to pick something up at Lowes for me and he said OK, “what is it”? he asked. I told him it was his birthday gift. That night he never mentioned if he went to Lowes or not and the next day when he got home from work he just went straight out and started working on his truck. I walked outside where he was working on his lathe and I asked, did you get by Lowes and he stopped and walked over and said yes, yesterday. I asked, well does it work and he said he had used it all day and it really worked well and I said good and walked away knowing Jason has a very hard time saying thank you without getting embarrassed. As I did he said; “It’s the best gift I ever got, thank you”. I smiled back at him and kept walking; knowing if I went back it would have embarrassed him.

Parting Thoughts:

  • When Jason was around one year old he was always getting into my dirty old PVC sprinkler fittings so his mom had me cut both ¾” and 1” schedule 40 PVC pipe in various lengths and sand the edges so they were rounded and then I purchased an assortment of new slip fittings. She would keep this assortment of “Jason Toys” in a box and each morning she would dump it out on the family room floor and Jason would build things with them all day. Each evening my wife would take them all apart so they were ready for the next day.
  • Later in life while other boys were playing with Lincoln Logs, Jason had several different Erector sets, both with and without motors. He alone or he and his brother would build some really crazy creations but never by the plans provided. There was one that was supposed to be a moon rover and thinking back, what was made looked more like an off-road buggy.
  • From age five Jason never wanted toys for his birthday or Christmas, he always wanted tools and even at age five he didn’t want play tools, he wanted ones just like my tools. I believe it was around five when we gave him a finish carpenters hammer and an electrician’s tool belt. He would  put this big belt on and hang his hammer from the loop and I would bring home 4X6 header stock cut-offs around 12″ long and I would start about 20 nails and leave and he would pound on those nails until they were all driven in.
  • Jason always liked to dig, give him a shovel and he was entertained for hours. When he would go to a job site with me he loved playing in the utility trenches. He was always digging remote control off-road tracks from a young age. One time he went with his mom to her horse lesson and she got him a shovel and he started digging. In the middle of her lesson she started hearing “Mom, Mom, Mom” each time a little louder. When she went to him he said, “I’m stuck!”. He had dug this deep hole and was down in it with his knees bent all the way back and dirt around him and could not get out. My wife was telling me how she was supposed to be taking a lesson but instead she was digging Jason out of a hole.
  • We were at the coast one time in the motorhome and in the night Jason fell over the steps in the dark and there was a moment of silence and we heard real quietly “That’s going to leave a mark”. His mom and I laughed for at least an hour.
  • Recently Jason was waiting for me in my home office and when I walked in he was typing just as fast as he could and asked him what he was up to. He said there was a site where they were having a contest to see who could type 150 WPM without mistakes first and he was trying. I asked how he was doing and he said he was stuck in the low 140’s and all I could think was 140 compared to my 4 WPM.
  • Jason was truly on a high in his life during August of ’07; first he called his mom and told her he had just met the “governator”! When asked what was said, Jason said he introduced himself and said “If you keep carrying all those tools (his electrical tool belt), before long you will be as big as me” and that was about it. Next, Martin and Patti Croad told Jason that they were going to send Jason and a friend for one week to Australia and one week in New Zealand, where Martin was from. Then came Patti telling Jason that she and Martin were going to purchase Jason a new personal vehicle; a 2008 one ton Dodge 4X4 Mega Cab Diesel and Jason was going to convert it to a long bed, the longest truck I’ve ever seen, I think about 200’ long. And lastly, he was going to have the floor for his shop finally on the 28th and framing would start by the first part of September.

Jason’s Truck