Memorial arrangements made for Larry Payton

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Reported by: Brittany Jeffers
Updated: 2/21/2013 3:13 pm Published: 2/19/2013 10:14 am

Longtime Tulsa fixture and Celebrity Attractions’ President Larry Payton passed away unexpectedly on Monday.

The memorial service to celebrate Larry's life and legacy will be held Saturday, February 23rd at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Downtown Tulsa.

There will be a viewing Friday, February 22nd at Floral Haven from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. and also Saturday at First Baptist Church using the Detroit Avenue Lobby entrance from 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.

Larry Payton, his wife Kay Payton, his son Drew Payton and his brother Ed Payton have worked to bring Broadway to the west as the leadership of Celebrity Attractions. Larry and Kay started Celebrity Attractions in 1983.

"For 30 years Larry's dream of bringing laughter, smiling faces and stirring hearts through live entertainment has touched the lives of thousands of Tulsans, as well as theatergoers in Oklahoma City and 5 other cities across a four state area. The lights of Broadway are dimmer today because of the loss of Larry Payton but beyond his business contribution, Larry's legacy will continue to impact through the work he did in his church and community." Said Ed Payton, Celebrity Attractions COO and brother to Larry Payton.

Celebrity Attractions presents a Broadway Series in seven different regional markets: including Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, AR; Springfield, MO; Amarillo, TX; Abilene, TX; and Lubbock, TX. He was actively involved in the Independent Presenters Network comprised of over 50 markets throughout the United States that present and produce shows.

In addition, Payton invested in several shows for Broadway and the road, including: ONCE, KINKY BOOTS, Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, JEKYLL & HYDE, WONDERLAND, 9 TO 5, GREASE, Monty Python’s SPAMALOT on Broadway, the road & in London, PETER PAN starring Cathy Rigby, LEGALLY BLONDE, THE COLOR PURPLE, MOVIN’ OUT, BOMBAY DREAMS and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE for which he won a Tony® Award.

The Director of Tulsa Performing Arts Center, John Scott, says that the news hit him particularly hard because Payton was a friend and colleague for 25 years.

“We lost a very important friend and a very important business man,” said Scott.

Scott says that he and Payton would greet and shake the hands of the patrons who attended the Broadway Series at the Tulsa PAC. on the night that Broadway Series. He tells FOX23 that Payton’s legacy will be the joy that he brought to the Green Country by transporting Broadway to Tulsa.

“It was very significant to us because it brought people who were enthusiastic about the showing into the building,” said Scott, “He made people feel very special because they were his friend and I know that's the way I felt.”

The ripple of grief was felt hundreds of miles away.

Vice Chair for The Broadway League in New York, Al Nocciolino, tells FOX23 that people involved with the league are in shock with the news of Payton’s death.

“We love Larry and he was extraordinarily respected as a person and as professional,” said Nocciolino, “We will miss him so much.”

Payton was the recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Achievement in Presenter Management Award from the Broadway League and awarded the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce as the recipient of the 1997 Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Payton was also an active member of Parkview Baptist Church in Tulsa, actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian and served on the Board of his alma mater Southwest Baptist University.

A press release from Celebrity Attractions says Payton died from an undisclosed illness. He was 64.

Flowers can be sent to Floral Haven 6500 S 129th E. Ave. Broken Arrow, OK 74012 or a Scholarship Fund has been established at Southwest Baptist University 1600 University Avenue, Bolivar, MO 65613 in Larry's memory. 

All checks must be made out to Southwest Baptist University and a note on the check should be directed to the Larry Payton Scholarship Fund. These funds will be used to provide scholarships to members of the SBU Tennis Teams.  

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