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Just about everything in Sherwood is “different” than it was 30 years ago, or even 15 years ago. No more Six Corners, blue school or machine shop.

Except Harold Payne. The Visitors Center Harold Payne.

“Harold was the first person I met when I started by business in Sherwood 16 years ago,” said Edward Jones Financial Advisor Chuck Britton. “We both had more hair then.”by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - After 25 years telling visitors about Sherwood and the surrounding area, Harold Payne calls it a career.

Back then, Harold had more hair and the city was smaller, but Harold has been a common denominator for greeting visitors and selling them on Sherwood against a backdrop of change and growth.

It all began over 25 years ago with Harold volunteering at the Sherwood Visitors Center in Bruce Maplethorpe’s building at Railroad Street and Sherwood Boulevard. Bruce’s dad, Bill Maplethorpe, was part of the small cadre of citizens doing Chamber of Commerce-type duties, before Sherwood officially formed a Chamber. Harold, then a meteorological technical with the National Weather Service, volunteered in the Visitor Center.

While he is a weather junkie and “appreciates a good, loud storm,” Harold earned a number of stripes making him an ideal visitor center pro. His 20 years in the U.S. Air Force placed him in Illinois, Michigan and Washington D.C., far from his home town Ashtabula, Ohio.

In the Air Force, Harold became adept at discerning weather and advised military leaders on logistics.

Leaving the Air As a technical sergeant, he became the National Oceanographic Administrative Agency (NOAA) “go-to” guy for weather information to the public in Portland. Then he went to travel school in Corvallis, which lead him to become a ticket agent for Air Oregon, now known as Horizon Air.

In 1964 he and his wife Patricia married in Klamath Falls. The couple had two daughters and a son, who gave them five grandchildren. The families all live in the area. Patricia died in 2011 after 48 years of marriage.

Quiet and businesslike but unfailingly personable, Harold has been the city’s front man for generations. “Harold has been a selfless and steadfast supporter of the community and his thousands of volunteer hours have allowed the Chamber of Commerce to grow in the quality organization it is today. Thank you, Harold,” Britton said.

Steadfast for sure. “Harold and his family were some of the first people we met when we moved back to Sherwood over 30 years ago,” noted Sherwood resident Audrey Browning.

His approach to the job is pure and simple. “I enjoy meeting people from the around the country,” he said. “Some totally hew to this area and we often talk about the weather here and the fun of beautiful summer and living in rain and wind.”

“Harold loves people and truly enjoys being around and learning about other folks,” said his good friend Bruce Maplethorpe. “He is very kind and caring and has long provided casseroles to families who have lost a loved one.”

His always-positive approach earned Harold and his Visitors Center partner Dave Nichols the Washington County Visitors Association “Hospitality Hero” award in 2012. They are Sherwood’s “Visitor Guys.”

As he leaves the racks of tourist brochures, the random phone calls and the sometimes-amazed visitors and new residents, Harold offers his typical positive, solid, simple and straightforward approach to those who follow.

“Be knowledgeable and up to date on the community and all the great things that Sherwood and Oregon has to offer,” he said. “Most important, just enjoy the people and their stories.”

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