Wilford “Will” A. Payne spent his life providing medical care to the less fortunate, those the system left behind. On Saturday, July 2, when that system could no longer care for him, the man the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called the “Johnny Appleseed of Local Health Centers” passed away at the age of 71.
He did not leave empty-handed. The fruits of Will’s labor can be seen in the thousands of Western Pennsylvania residents who owe their lives to the clinics he built in the region’s poorest neighborhoods. Will’s Primary Care Health Services Inc. treats more than 20,000 patients a year in Allegheny County and the model he developed as a pioneer in community health is employed in cities across the country.