Joan Payne Erwin

May 10, 2023

Joan Diane Payne Erwin, 76, of Charlotte, died peacefully in her beloved home, surrounded by family on May 10, 2023.  She bravely fought metastatic breast cancer for eight years.  She never gave up, determined to be there for her family and friends.  She remained positive in her fight to move forward with constant chemotherapy, several surgeries, and radiation, all with a smile, warm greeting and homemade treats for her doctors, nurses and staff at Levine Cancer Institute.  Joan truly personified the values of a Proverbs 31 woman.  A faithful servant of the Lord, a devoted wife, loving mother and grandmother, protecting and serving her family, friends, and others.  A humble and kind steward of her gifts from God, she spread her love and kindness freely. 

Joan was born in Maryville, Tennessee, November 12, 1946, to Ralph and Lottie Taylor Payne, of Violet, N.C.  She graduated from Everett High School in Maryville, TN and attended Draughon's Business College in Knoxville.  She met her future husband, Mark Wylea Erwin, at the University of Tennessee while working as the secretary for the manager of the cafeteria.  Mark asked her to marry him after just a few months and her response was, “I love you but am not sure I am ready to marry, so you have to give me two weeks alone to think about it.” Fortunately for Mark, she consented and they married August 24,1968.   She was a legal secretary during their early years in Chicago before Mark was relocated to the New York City office of United Parcel Service.  While there, Joan attended and graduated from The New York School of Interior Design.  They moved to New Jersey and later, Ridgefield, Connecticut, where both of her daughters were born. As she wrote in her memoir, her dream had come true, and she began her career as a wife and mother.  

They moved to Lake Wylie, S.C. in 1978 and later to Charlotte. She loved to be involved at River Hills Community Church, and always loved to be volunteer at her daughters’ schools over the years.  She was a talented and gracious hostess to many holiday parties for her husband’s office, fundraisers, and various events.  She and Mark travelled the world and made dear friends over the years, including living overseas in Mauritius, making the quintessential Ambassador's wife.  She loved making holidays special for her family and friends, and especially her treasured grandchildren.  She never turned down an opportunity to spend time with them and always eager to help her daughters with their care.  She spent her life gathering memories and loved to make scrapbooks for loved ones.  She had a gift for making people feel special, even people she interacted with during day-to-day errands.  She treasured her friends, and many considered her as their best friend.  She loved spending time at their mountain home in Banner Elk in the summer with her family.  Her grandchildren have many special memories with her at the annual family beach trip at "The Farmer's House," in DeBordieu.  

She was famous for her baking and especially her Strawberry Jam. Each year, she made over a hundred jars to give to friends. She enjoyed special time with her granddaughters making jam together.  Their favorite teachers would get treated to a jar.  When strawberry season approached each year, empty jars would show up with notes hinting at a refill.  In 2008, she published her cookbook, Around the Family Table, a collection of her favorite recipes and photos of her Mother and Daddy, family and close friends.

She loved to garden and always made sure her yard was beautiful with flowers and plants, especially her Daddy’s rose bushes, which she had moved from house to house since 2005.   

She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Mark Erwin, daughters Jennifer Ann Erwin and Melissa Joan (Missy) Carey (Chris) plus her beloved grandchildren, Della Joan Erwin (18), Lila Erwin Highsmith (15), Virginia Lottie Highsmith (12) and Thomas Erwin Highsmith (7), her brother Mike Payne and his wife Sandy of Lenoir City, Tennessee and her brother Kenneth Payne of Lake Wylie, S.C., and her loving sister-in-law, Pamela Erwin Morrell and Bill Morrell of Rock Hill, S.C., along with many nephews and nieces.  Special thanks to dear friends Myra Heafner, Mae Bryant, and Larry Biddy for their constant devotion.  Thanks to Dr. Lorri Ayres and Dr. Antoinette Tan for their attention to her care over the past 8 years.  

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 15, 2023 at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.  The family will receive friends following the service in Oxford Hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to two organizations close to her heart. 

MBCN Metastatic Breast Cancer Network c/o share

165 West 46th Street, Suite 712

New York, NY 10036 

Crossnore Communities for Children 

The office of External Relations, Crossnore Communities for Children

P.O. Box 249

Crossnore, NC 28616 

Share your memories & condolences


  • Clarice Cato Goodyear

    Dear Mark,
    I am so very sorry to read of Joan's Sacred Transition! As you probably know, Dent made his Sacred Transition May 4, 2021, after seven years of progressively decline of dementia (Primary Progressive Aphasia). I'm sure you remember how much Dent and Joan looked forward to sharing each other's company at the various events you and I attended through the years. They had much in common. Joan, like Dent, was a kind, gentle, caring, introvert who made everyone around her feel loved and appreciated. I continue, as always, to wish you and your family all the best. Warmly, Clarice

  • Donald Renaldo

    My heart grieves for the Erwin family. Joan and Mark have been my dear friends for years and I will miss her but always remember her big smile, big hugs and kind words she said to me every time I would see her.
    Mark, you have so many fond and loving memories of what a precious and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and dear friend "Joanie" was to all of us.
    I will always remember you calling Joan every night we were out of town and you ended your nightly call with "Love You Joanie"!
    All of us who knew Joan shared that love of Joan.
    Mark, please take care of yourself. I will miss your Joanie!