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Harold Mitchell (Mitch) Jayne Jr, age 91, died October 27, 2020 at Scotland County Care Center.
He was born March 11, 1929 in Hannibal Missouri to Harold M. Jayne SR. and Marian Ryan Jayne. He was the only child born of his parents. He attended grade school at Memphis Grade School where he became an Eagle scout. He then attended Memphis High School, Wentworth Military Academy and Trenton High School, where he graduated. His college education included attending North Central Missouri College, Culver-Stockton College, University of Iowa and Missouri School of Science and Technology. He graduated with a BS degree in civil engineering from The University of Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1951. While leading an expedition to explore the Attawapiskat river as a possible path to the Hudson Bay he received a draft notice. Instead of pursuing his plan to build a copper mine in Peru, he decided to enlist in the Air Force, in which he served from 1952 to 1955 as a mathematician/engineer.
As a private he tested so highly in his evaluation scores that he was placed in an unusually high-level job with the Headquarters of the Air Force. He was soon sent to help build a first of its kind supercomputer called UNIVAC, to be used in the command center of the Pentagon. This was the predecessor of all modern-day computing devices. For several years he was in charge of night shift operating and repairing a computer with thousands of vacuum tubes. He also edited and fixed computer programs. His knowledge and abilities ultimately had him called to work for the President’s Office of Emergency Management which was building a secret command center under a mountain in Virginia, to be named Mount Weather. He was hired by the Army Corp of Engineers to help with their mission of mining, building and staffing a large facility where senior leaders would retreat to from Washington D.C. during a time of nuclear war as part of the Continuity of Government. He worked in this capacity while detailed to the Executive Office of the President. Over 20 years his primary job was to engineer, manage and operate the largest computer complex in the USA. At times he oversaw the activities of around 3000 men and women in his charge.
He was also chosen to represent the Executive Office of the President in areas of strategic planning, engineering and science. At various times he worked with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Communications Agency (DCA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Reconnaissance Office. The best-known projects he worked on were ARPANET and SIOP. The first provided the basic architecture for the present-day internet. The second had to do with the “Doomsday Plan” for nuclear war. He was one of few people to have access to the President’s Daily Briefing. He consulted personally with multiple sitting U.S. Presidents.
He ultimately would have a hand in the existence and utilization of computers, cell phones, printers, the internet, and satellite communication systems. He played a significant part in keeping Americans safe during the Cold War of the 50’s through the 70’s.
In 1982, following his retirement in 1980, Mitch moved back to his beloved boyhood home of Memphis, MO. He took up a second career as a cattle farmer. He was not raised in a farming home and was largely self-taught in growing crops and managing cattle. He utilized animal science to refine the genetics of his Gelbvieh cattle herd. He also combined his love of farming with his passion for natural land management. His land management efforts included improving much of his property by turning it into wildlife preservation areas, working with the federal government and other organizations to protect the land. He ultimately retired from cattle farming during his latter years and lived quietly until his passing with his wife Mary, who died in June 2019.
Mitch was very well educated and a life-long learner in many areas, including science, religion, agriculture, military history and economics. He was a teacher and source of wisdom to others in many venues. He taught in areas as varied as the Army War College to his local Sunday school. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing and firearms. As a young man he worked as an explorer and guide in Canada, nurturing a youthful and adventurous spirit that lasted throughout his life. He was also proud of his prior sports participation in high school and college.
He was a very gregarious and outgoing man who loved others. He was a faithful and spiritual man who attended multiple churches over the years and contributed regularly to their operations. He taught Sunday school for many years with an emphasis on bible history. He was quite generous to others and gave to worthy causes and individuals in need. He served as Chairman of the Scotland County Care Center.
Mitch was a loving father to 3 sons: David M. Jayne of Kirksville MO, Thomas M. Jayne MD of Waynesboro VA and Mark R. Jayne of Memphis MO. He also leaves a daughter in-law Laura Jayne. He was a grandfather to 6 grandchildren: Melissa Propst, Andrew Jayne, Bradley Jayne PhD, Megan Heil, Whitney Cremeens, and Savannah Jayne. He had 7 great grandchildren.
Memorials in lieu of flowers are suggested to the Presbyterian Church in Memphis in care of Payne Funeral Chapel, 202 E. Madison St., Memphis, Missouri 63555.
Funeral services were held Monday afternoon, November 2, 2020, at 2:00 P.M. at the Payne Funeral Chapel in Memphis with Rev. Charles McCracken officiating. Interment followed in the Memphis Cemetery east of Memphis with full military honors provided by the Wallace W. Gillespie, V.F.W. Post # 4958 of Memphis & two from the honors program. Pallbearers were Andrew Jayne, Bradley Jayne, Joe Miller, Roy Monroe, Larry Bloomfield, Lane Campbell, Steve Caldwell, and Harlo Donelson. Musicians were Schelle Cooley, vocalist and Sarah Myers, organist presenting the song selections This is my Father’s World and Holy, Holy, Holy.
Online condolences may be sent to the Jayne Family by logging onto Payne’s website at www.paynefuneralchapel.com.
Arrangements were entrusted to the care of the Payne Funeral Chapel in Memphis.