Josephine Erwin Powe Rankin

April 28, 2024

Charlotte, North Carolina - Josephine Erwin Powe Rankin passed away Sunday, April 28, 2024.

“Jo” was born on October 6, 1926, in Durham, NC, daughter of the late Edward Knox Powe, Jr. and Louise Watkins Powe.

Jo grew up in Durham and was educated at Durham High School. She attended Hollins College for two years, after which she transferred to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received her BA in History in 1949. While at Chapel Hill, she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

In 1949 she married R. Pinkney Rankin, Jr., and spent the next seven years in Philadelphia while her husband completed his medical training and residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia she worked at the University Museum, an experience which influenced her life-long interest in painting and art history.

Jo and Pinkney moved to Charlotte in 1956, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Jo was a member of the Charlotte Junior League, the Colonial Dames, and the Guild of Charlotte Artists, where she served as a former president. She was a member of Christ Episcopal Church for 68 years, where she served on the vestry and had leadership roles in several outreach endeavors, including support for two local public schools. She received citations for work with Tryon Hills Elementary and with the Johnston Memorial YMCA. She also served on a diocesan committee for children’s advocacy. For her efforts, Jo received the Governor’s Award for outstanding volunteer service in the field of childhood education. Her other community contributions included service on the boards of The Relatives and Thompson Child and Family Focus.

She pursued her love of art her entire life and was recognized in the region as a dedicated and gifted painter. Her work was in high demand and won multiple show prizes over the years.

An active person for most of her life, Jo played tennis and golf, and enjoyed long walks with Pinkney around her neighborhood in Charlotte and in the mountains. Books were a particular passion. She was a voracious independent reader and belonged to several cherished book clubs over the years, with tastes ranging from history to biography to fiction.

Jo was renowned as a dog lover, her affection was directed at not just her own pets, but those of family and friends, from whom she always welcomed a visit. She owned an astonishingly wide variety of breeds over the years, but her favorite by far was a rambunctious Pug named “Buck” who famously adorned a billboard on Highway 321 near Blowing Rock, NC.

Many wonderful summers were spent at the Rankin Hill cottage in Blowing Rock, which occupied a special place in Jo and Pinkney’s hearts.

Jo was a gentle person who cherished time with her remarkable circle of friends. She was eternally grateful to have such a large, loving, extended family.

Jo’s family is appreciative of the devoted support from the staff of Southminster, Embrace Care, and Via Health Partners, and would like to thank in particular Laresha Wayman, Gorethy Tsheke, Jackie Black, and Kya Lee-Heron.

Jo was pre-deceased by her husband of 74 years, Dr. R Pinkney Rankin, Jr. of Gastonia, NC; her daughter Caroline Gray Rankin McKechnie; her brother Edward Knox Powe III; sisters Frances Powe Grainger and Mary Louise Powe Gardner.

A service to celebrate Jo’s life will be held 2:00 PM on June 25, 2024, at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte. A reception will be held immediately following the service on the church campus.

Memorial gifts may be made to Christ Episcopal Church, 1412 Providence Road Charlotte, NC 28207, or the Southminster Foundation, 8919 Park Road Charlotte NC 28210.

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


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