Rodney Payne, a longtime employee of Ritz Movie Theatres, died July 16.
He was 46.
Over the past decade, Payne worked his way up through the company and most recently served as an assistant manager at Ritz East.
Payne was a native of Philadelphia who graduated from Overbrook High School and studied visual arts at Community College of Philadelphia.
He began his tenure with the theater company about 10 years ago at the Ritz Bourse and later moved to Ritz East.
Fellow Ritz East assistant manager Melissa Morales said Payne was an exemplary employee and supervisor.
“He was excellent, always available to guide staff. He would listen, give advice,” she said. “A lot of our employees are younger and he had so much experience, so they looked to him for advice and guidance. He was a patriarch figure.”
Ritz East general manager Sean Knowles said Payne was a perfect fit for the company.
“He was a fantastic employee, always very friendly and very personable,” Knowles said, noting Payne’s honesty and integrity stood out. “He always had a positive thing to say about everything and everyone.”
Bob Strohm, a former Ritz employee, said Payne brought his affable nature to the workplace.
“He was outgoing, charming,” Strohm said. “He was so incredibly personable. My last day last year, he came over and gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m so glad to have worked with you, it’s been a pleasure. We’ll have to get together.’ He was just that type of person, always right there, wanting you to know he was there for you.” “He was a wonderful guy,” added Morales. “He had so many friends; just an all-around great guy.” Apart from being a movie buff, Payne was an avid comic-book fan, and enjoyed attending Comic-Con events and all things superhero. He had been battling cancer in the past few years but was in remission.
Payne took his own life. Morales said the loss has devastated co-workers.
“Ritz is a very, very close-knit family. All three Ritzes are within blocks of each other and we get together a few times a year for parties and movie nights. We’re all extremely close, so this is a major, major blow. Everyone’s just reaching out to one another and trying to comfort each other and figure out where to go next. There’s going to be a big void without his presence.”