NORRIS ROBERT Payne Jr. gave the best hugs.

That was why one of his nicknames, understandably enough, was "Hug."

The hugs weren't only physical. He loved to embrace people with his love and compassion. It was a delight to be in his presence.

"Everybody loved him," his father, Norris Robert Payne Sr., said.

Norris Payne, a psychiatric technician who worked with patients at local mental and rehab institutions and a man who could whip up a mean barbecue at family cookouts, died May 31 of a heart attack. He was 43 and lived in West Philadelphia.

Payne, whose mother is Gladys Payne Davis, was born in Philadelphia. He attended public schools but earned his GED in the Job Corps.

He attended Hahnemann University, where he earned his technical certification. He first worked for Resources for Human Development, the Kirkbride Center and Eagleville Hospital, always involved in helping people locked into drug and alcohol dependency and mental-health issues.

"Norris was known to enjoy good food, family and fun," his father said. "He loved making people laugh, particularly at family cookouts."

He cherished his two children and was very protective of them. He enjoyed traveling to Virginia to attend family reunions.

Norris also enjoyed taking fishing outings to Maryland, and could cut a rug at local dances. He was a big fan of the Eagles and the 76ers.

He is survived by his parents; a daughter, Naijashea Samira Turner Payne: a son, Dajour Dineer Grigger Payne; a sister, Rochelle Payne, and his grandmother, Alma Johnson.

Services: 11 a.m. tomorrow at the 59th Street Baptist Church, 315 S. 59th St. Burial will be in Fernwood Cemetery.