In Memory of




Obituary for Gilbert Allen Payette

GRAFTON --- Gilbert Allen Payette (76) passed away unexpectedly in his home on September 15, 2019. Born in Cohoes on May 30, 1943, Gil is the son of the late Harvey Edward Payette and Jean Elizabeth (Evertsen) Payette McClellan.

Gil was in the very first graduating class of Shaker High School in Latham in 1961. He then served for six years in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam Era, 1961-1966. Following his years in the service, he pursued a career in acting receiving a degree from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC. He was involved in a few off Broadway as well as Broadway productions, including King Henry V (1969) as part of the ensemble cast. Gil also did some “extra” work in television. He later pursued a career in law enforcement and served as a US Sky Marshall (1971-1973). He continued working for the Federal government in U.S. Customs, Patrol Division, at first in Florida then later in North Carolina. In 1994, at the age of 51, he retired from the Federal government as the District Director of the US Customs Patrol Division of Wilmington, NC.

Gil then continued his education and received a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He became a personal trainer and competed as a professional body builder for several years, winning multiple titles at the senior (60+) level.

Gil later moved to Arizona where he discovered his love and passion for the Native American culture and people. Working as a guide throughout scenic Arizona, he studied the many tribes of the area and developed programs to present their history and folklore as a professional Storyteller. Also having a talent for sketching, Gil used his original artwork in his programs, to make greeting cards, personalized annual calendars, and so much more.

Wanting to return to his “roots,” Gil returned home to Upstate New York in 2012 and built a home in Grafton next door to his younger brother. Gil continued his Storytelling, developing programs of the tribes of the New York regions. He enjoyed participating in Native American Pow Wows and, at one particular ritual, was given the tribal name of Strong Bear. Now settling back in his home state, Gil went on to live a quiet life in the Town of Grafton until his untimely death.

In addition to his parents, Gil is predeceased by his sister, Sharon Payette Acosta Jerome. He is survived by a brother, Harvey Edward Payette II (Grafton); a sister, Lori Lynn (David Belemjian) Payette (Loudonville); as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Gil’s wishes of cremation have been carried out; but a public visitation on Sunday, October 20th from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm will be held at the Bowen & Parker Bros. Funeral Home, 97 Old Loudon Road, Latham for family and friends. Interment of his remains will then take place at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Colonie on Monday, October 21st at 11:00 am.

If interested, a contribution in Gil’s memory may be made to “St. Joseph’s Indian School,” PO Box 326, Chamberlin, SD 57326. Gil had visited the school and personally supported their work in helping Lakota boys and girls find their place in the world. Visit for more information.