Wallace James (Wally) Paynter of Evansville died on May 30th, 2023. He was born in Carmi, Illinois on May 26, 1967, the son of Patricia Lucille O’Daniell Paynter and James Paynter. He is predeceased by his mother, his grandparents John Lamp; Lucille (Wallace) O’Daniell and Ray Lamp; Ina Dunbar, his uncle Wallace O’Daniell, and his great aunts Lena (Wallace) Norton and Ida (Wallace) Choate.He graduated from Carmi High School, the University of Evansville with a bachelor’s in psychology, and Southeastern Illinois College with a nursing degree. He was always active in school. In high school he was the editor of the school newspaper and president of the Thespian Society. In college he was president of the UE Student Congress and served 3 years on the UE Board of Trustees, the UE Alumni Board and was a member of the UE Theatre Society and the UE Diversity Council.
Wally spent his professional career in public service, working for the Franklin-Williamson Counties Health Department, the Illinois Department of Aging, the Vanderburgh County Health Department, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Illinois Secretary of State. Like his mother, he volunteered for organizations that helped those who were disabled. For 20 years, he served as the board President and/or Vice President of the regional Muscular Dystrophy Association. He chaired the first AIDS Walks in Carbondale, Owensboro and Vincennes, and volunteered for the 1st AIDS Walks in Evansville and Jasper. He served as the chair of the Tri-State AIDS Holiday Project since 1989. He served as the President of the Tri-State Alliance from 1989 – 2022, as the president of Justice, Inc. for a decade (Indiana’s statewide LGBT civil rights organization), and as the chair of AGLO (the association of Great Lakes Gay and Lesbian Organizations). In 2022 he was named President Emeritus and a lifetime board member of the Tri-State Alliance. As a civil rights activist, he chaired successful efforts to pass civil rights ordinances in Evansville and Vanderburgh County, he helped pass ordinances in Henderson and several cities throughout Indiana and coordinated lobbying efforts that stopped the Indiana anti-gay adoption bill and the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment in Indiana. He worked tirelessly to advocate for LGBT civil rights and for the needs of LGBT youth.
In addition to his work with the Tri-State AIDS Holiday Project that served over 400 low-income families, he was most proud of founding the TSA Youth Group in 1998, which serves LGBT teens in a 3-state area. He and his sister Elizabeth spent many years taking care of their mother at home, who had a form of muscular dystrophy known as Charcot Marie Tooth.
He is survived by one sister Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Billy. He is also survived by friends who were his chosen family, including the Kathy DiDomizio family, Mark Fox, Kyle Laslie, Joyce Masser, Patrick McCarthy, Dan McNeely, Travis Peacock, Julie Robinson, Bob Schmidt, Nathan Simon and Nathan’s son Grayson James Simon. Beyond being an activist, he was known for his love of movies, democrat politics, dining with friends, traveling and helping college students.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the TSA Youth Group or to the TSA AIDS Holiday Project, PO Box 2901, Evansville, IN 47728, via PayPal or Venmo @tristatealliance, OR made online at TSAGL.org/donate.html.
All friends and supporters are welcome to join us for a memorial service that will be held on June 17th 2023 at 2pm at the CK Newsome Center, 100 E Walnut St, in Evansville Indiana. Friends will be invited to speak and those that cannot attend are able to send video stories and tributes to email@example.com for showing at the service.
A brief intimate graveside service will be held on Sunday, June 18th, 2pm, at St. John’s Cemetery in Carmi Illinois. He was cremated. He was an organ donor, in the hopes of helping others in need. Campbell Funeral Home in Carmi is assisting the family with arrangements.