Paul Jerome Polking

December 14, 2022

CHARLOTTE – Paul Jerome Polking passed away at the age of 85 from complications from lung cancer on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center. 

A native of Breda, Iowa, Paul grew up on the Polking family farm.  In 1955 he headed to South Bend to study at the University of Notre Dame, earning a Bachelor of Science degree and becoming a lifelong fan of the Fighting Irish.  After his graduation in 1959 he joined the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant junior grade and served until 1963. 

After his tour in the Navy, the siren song of Notre Dame called him back and in 1966 he earned his doctorate in law from the University of Notre Dame Law School.  Part of his heart remained at Notre Dame, and he returned regularly, serving on the advisory counsel for the law school and attending football games to cheer on the Fighting Irish whenever he could.  The part of his heart that remained was gladdened and proud that two of his sons and three of his grandchildren attended Notre Dame, and that his daughter attended the sister school, St. Mary’s College.

From ND Law Paul made his way to Washington, DC to a job with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  It was in Washington that he began what was to be a lifelong romance when he met his wife, Joan.  A few years after they married Paul was recruited to be the second lawyer in a legal department for a small southern bank called NCNB.  Paul and Joan took a leap of faith and moved to Charlotte, NC in 1970, and Paul began working at a job that provided him over 30 years of joy and fulfillment. 

In the early 1980’s, Paul worked on a strategy to find a gap in federal and state legislation prohibiting interstate banking.  Beginning with an acquisition in Florida in 1981, NCNB moved into state after state, growing to become NationsBank, and ultimately Bank of America.  Paul very much enjoyed the legal work he did in his role as General Counsel, but was most proud of the people with whom he worked each day.

Paul’s belief in a life of service did not end with his job.  He and Joan had five children, and he coached countless t-ball and basketball teams.  He was a loving father who valued time with his kids, and through his example, taught each of them the importance of a life lived for others.

Paul’s desire to serve others and his stalwart religious conviction led him to volunteer for numerous civic, educational, and religious organizations.  He was on the advisory counsel for the Notre Dame Law School, a member of the Board of Trustees of Belmont Abbey College, the Committee on Finance and Budget at St. Mary’s College, and the Board of Advisors for the University of North Carolina School of Law Banking Institute.  Paul was a trustee of the Mint Museum of Art, and a member of the Board of Trustees at Holy Angels, Inc., where he was awarded the Dr. C. Ellis Fisher Caring Hands, Caring Heart award.  He and Joan established the Polking Family Fellowship at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture at the Notre Dame Law School. 

Paul volunteered in various roles at his parish of St. Vincent de Paul, and served his church and various other organizations with acts of quiet charity.  He was a member of the Order of Malta, Legatus, and the Knights of Columbus.

Paul is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joan; his sons, Christian (Jean), Patrick (Dawn), Paul Matthew (Tara), Jonathan (Stephanie); his daughter, Caroline Robertson (Bob); his grandchildren, Mary Cecelia, Kathleen Joan, Christian Laurence Jr., Anna Caroline, Josephine Elizabeth, Augustine Thomas, Michael Paul, Lucia Theresa Gail, Avery Patrice, Reese Alexandra, Quinn Patrick, Charlotte Anne, Juliette Rose, Valencia Elizabeth, John Paul, Clare Marie, Daniel Blaine, Sarah Helen, Luke Joseph, and Paul William Robertson.  Also surviving are his brother, John (Stevie) and his sister-in-law, Lynn.  Paul was preceded in death by a brother, Clement, in infancy; his sister, Phyllis Mae and his brothers, James, William and his wife, Margaret, and Joseph.

A visitation will be held from 6:30-8:30 PM with a Rosary at 7:30 PM on Monday, December 19, 2022 in the activity center at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, at St. Vincent de Paul.  The funeral service will be livestreamed at:  for those unable to attend in person. Interment will be at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at Belmont Abbey Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered in memory of Paul to Holy Angels, 6600 Wilkinson Blvd, Belmont, NC 28012 or the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, 424 Geddes Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences may be shared at

Share your memories & condolences


  • Joan Martin

    I’m thinking of you, Joan, and all your family. Paul was an amazing man. Seeing again the picture of Paul, Joe and the others in the “victory photo” is such a good memory of an exciting time for NCNB.
    I watched the streaming service for Paul who was a great leader in his church and city.
    I’m sending good wishes and good memories for the new year.
    Most sincerely,
    Joan Martin

  • Bob and Martha Jefferis

    We are so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our prayers.

  • Celeste Renaldo

    Dear Joan and family,
    So very to hear of Paul's passing. Many fond memories from years past. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    God Bless, Celeste

  • Bill vandiver

    One of the very best! Worked with Paul for 30 years. He was the epitome of honesty, ethics, intelligence and every other trait that makes for an outstanding man. He will be missed!! Rest in peace my friend and Joan, and family my sincere condolences !

  • msgr.Richard Bellow

    Dear Joan and family I was sad to hear about Paul's passing. He was a kind person with a sincere heart. You and Paul were deeply devoted to each other, to your family and to your faith. It was always a delight to speak with him and yourself. At this beautiful season to think of Christ coming to be with us as man. May Paul share that love with the Lord in the peace of Heaven. Please be assured of my prayers for his eternal rest as well as for you and your family Msgr Richard Bellow

  • Charlie and Jane Johnson

    We are so sorry for your loss. Sending thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  • Tom Curtin '68Law

    Paul's favorite song began "Cheer Cheer." While there is no cheer today at Notre Same, in Iowa and Charlotte, Paul's favorite song ended in "Onward to Victory!" and his life was a celebration-as a husband, father,grandfather, friend and lawyer. I was blessed to be at ND Law School with him and to serve with he and Joan on the ND Law Council. All who knew him are better because of Paul.. One last Go Irish, my friend!

    God Bless you, those you love and those who love you.

  • Dennis McGarry

    Paul was a fine man-solid, smart, caring, loving, deliberate, great smile and family focused. He made this world a better place to live. He touched so many. He will be missed.

  • Brian Hoppmann

    Jonathan and Stephanie and all Polking family. My heartfelt condolences to you all during this season of life and passing. May the peace of the Lord be always with you and the knowledge of the fact that your father is now seated at the feast table of the Lord for eternity. Much love to you all and God bless.

  • Jeff Cook

    Dear Joan and family,
    I have such fond memories of my time in Charlotte. I've always admired Paul for his love of family as well as his accomplishments in the banking world. I'm so sorry for your loss and offer our condolences on behalf of the Cook family.

Load More