Paul Jerome Polking passed away at the age of 85 from complications from lung cancer on Wednesday, Dec. 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, Indiana, 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, D.C., 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, North Carolina, in 1970, and Paul began working at a job that provided him over 30 years of joy and fulfillment.
In the early 1980s, 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 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; his brother, John (Stevie) and his sister-in-law, Lynn.
He 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.
Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte. Interment was Wednesday, Dec. 21, at Belmont Abbey Cemetery.
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 were 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 www.kennethpoeservices.com.
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