Hank Payne’s death on Monday¬†was a suicide.

Woodward Academy president Hank Payne wrote a suicide note before taking his life Monday afternoon, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday morning.

The note was left in his eighth-floor Midtown hotel room before he jumped to his death, said Investigator Tami Schroder, who would not disclose the letter’s contents.

Payne’s death came only hours after he gave a rousing speech at a faculty and staff luncheon to kick off 2008 at the College Park school. Ben Johnson, a close friend and the school’s chairman of the board, said Tuesday that “I’ve never seen him more upbeat.”

The death has shocked and saddened the community of the prestigious school.

Said Johnson, “It is as close to totally inexplicable as anything I’ve ever dealt with.”

The Eagle provides more background on Payne’s time at Williams.

While Payne was at Williams, construction began on the college’s $45 million science center project, planning started on the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, and a new student center opened in Goodrich Hall. He also initiated three major planning processes focusing on the curriculum, on student life outside the classroom and on the college’s major financial priorities, according to the college.

In 2000, Williams College renamed the Great Hall in Goodrich the Harry C. Payne Hall. He also is commemorated with the Harry C. Payne Williams College Professorship in the Liberal Arts, designed to promote and support interdisciplinary teaching and research.

Condolences to all.

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