William Henderson Polk of Harrisburg, NC departed this earth peacefully on the morning of December 29, 2020 after a courageous battle with prostate cancer. He leaves behind his beloved wife Iris Jean (Misenheimer) Polk, son William Misenheimer Polk, daughter-in-law Sharlini Sankaran, and grandchildren Nisha Dulcea and Rubin Julian. He was beloved by a supportive circle of extended family, prayer partners, and dear friends.
William, or “Papa” as he is fondly known by his grandchildren, was born on February 5, 1946 in Midland, NC to Norman Polk and Tilley “Surray” Dudley Polk. He was preceded in death by his brothers Otis Tyson and Arnold “Ray” Polk; his uncles Arthur Polk (Sarah) and James G. Polk (Elmira); and cousins Kareem Polk and Gloria Polk. He is survived by a host of extended family including: nephews David Franklin, Phillip Polk and Arnold Polk, nieces especially Shamega Dion Tyson and several cousins including: Mrs. Jean Bowman and family, Mrs. Ethel “Geraria” Wilson and husband, and Ms. Trinitia and Camilla Polk. Iris’ extended family was also near and dear to William, including her departed sister Minnie Misenheimer, and many cousins in North Carolina and around the country.
WIlliam joined Ebenezer AME Zion church at an early age and was a member and trustee until his marriage to Iris Misenheimer. Both were avid and active church members and alternately attended his and her church. After their son William was born, they started attending First Missionary Baptist Church of Concord so their son could be involved in youth activities.
William and Iris were married on May 22, 1971, to this union their son William Misenheimer (“Lil’ William”) was born. His name was decided at Ebenezer AME Zion church near the arbor with the help of Mrs. Othelia Love. William is a special gift from God. He attended NC State University and NC Central School of Law, and is currently Deputy General Counsel to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Division. “Lil William” has been married for 18 years to Dr. Sharlini Sankaran, and they have two children: Nisha Dulcea and Rubin Julian. Through this marriage we gained family from around the world: Sharlini’s parents Dr. Sankaran Ramanathan and Parvathi Devaraj, sisters Drs. Chandini Sankaran (Jason and Megan) and Sumanna Sankaran Maynard (Brian and Zane), and nephew Dev Vishnu Ramesh, who was like a grandson to WIlliam.
William was known for his infectious chuckle and considerate, easygoing manner. He was loving and fully dedicated to Iris, and through their forty nine years of marriage, they were completely united in spirit and companionship. “Papa” had many years of joy and fond memories with his grandchildren, including giving them rides in his vintage truck and teaching them how to grow vegetables. As long as Papa was able to make the drive to Durham, he and Iris were always present to celebrate and encourage their grandchildren. A dedicated and loving grandfather, Papa made sure to never miss a birthday celebration, school promotion ceremony, or dance, band, or chorus performance.
William was retired from his long-term career as a truck driver at SAIA Trucking. He served as a volunteer firefighter for the town of Harrisburg for many years and was recently active in “Men for Living,” a support group for African-American survivors of prostate cancer. He was thoughtful and always willing to help others, ready to provide handy and practical advice on everything from how to fix a car, to the secrets of his famous green thumb. He remained active and busy as long as he was able, tinkering with his cherished vintage trucks, gardening, doing part-time jobs, and supporting friends and family.
Due to health concerns amidst the pandemic, the family has arranged for a viewing at Clark funeral home in Kannapolis NC on Sunday Jan 3 and a private graveside service on Monday Jan 4th. A Celebration of Life will follow, when we can safely gather again.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support from family and friends from Harrisburg, Concord and indeed around the world. We would especially like to extend thanks to Mr. Jeffrey Murray and Ms. Monica Love for their support over the past few months. We could fill a book to thank everyone who has said a kind word, dropped off food, helped run errands, and otherwise provided comfort to the family in these past few months and years, so please know we remember and acknowledge each and every one of you.
In lieu of memorial gifts or flowers, the family would like to suggest a donation to any of these organizations that meant so much to William and were a big part of his life and support network: Men For Living Prostate Cancer Support Group (John “Pete” Moody, secretary)@ PO Box 6145, Concord, NC 28025; House of Hope FMBC (Mrs Theoma Southwell, email@example.com); NC State Firefighters’ Association (https://ncsfa.com/contact); Home4Me: A voice for teens in foster care (Donna Reed https://home4me.org/)
Friend, Prayer Partner
We all loved William and it is our prayer that he will be with God until we meet again!
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