Hattie Joyce Popkin

July 8, 1939 - March 14, 2022
Hattie Joyce Popkin


Hattie “Joyce” Wilkerson was born on July 8, 1939, in Giles County, Tennessee near Pulaski. Joyce passed away after several years of declining health that resulted in a stroke on March 14, 2022, at Novant Health-New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C. She was 82.

Her parents were Malcolm Wilkerson and Edith Lafayette Daly. She has three sisters, Norma “Jean” Barlar of Atlanta, Patricia Morring of Huntsville, Alabama, and Debora Wilkerson of Houston, Texas. Her parents and her brothers, Don and Gary Wilkerson are deceased. Joyce so loved her siblings and vacationed with them and spent many holidays with them over the years.
Joyce was raised in Tennessee and went to public schools in Prospect and Elkton. Joyce and her siblings worked on the family farm. Joyce loved nature and was athletic. Her mother, Edith described her as being a princess because Joyce was reluctant to complete basic household chores expected of a girl in those days.

Joyce had two aunts, Doris, and Frances, who were fashion models in Nashville. They took Joyce under their wing, and she became interested in fashion and modeling.
In an effort to get out of the cotton fields, Joyce went to live with her sister Jean and her brother-in-law, Larry Barlar who was serving in the U.S. Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. It is there where she met Martin “Marty” Popkin while working in a restaurant in downtown Jacksonville. He at that time worked at Furniture Fair of Jacksonville, N.C.
They soon married and moved to Levittown, P.A., where Marty had a dinette manufacturing plant in nearby Camden N.J. Joyce became a homemaker.

Her first two children, Cindy, and Barry (deceased) were born in P.A. The kids and life took them back to the coast of N.C. because Marty wanted to be near his brothers.

Joyce’s younger sons, Gregory and Todd were born in Jacksonville and Wilmington, N.C., respectively. Joyce continued being a mother and modeled when she could get gigs with Leder Brothers, The Parisian, and J. Nicholson.

After Todd’s birth, Joyce became an avid tennis player along with numerous friends and her sister-in-law, Diane F. Popkin, where they travelled eastern N.C. and played in a tennis league. They were known to have fought for the rights of the first tennis players of color to those courts in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Joyce was social and loved fine dining, dressing up and going to parties. Joyce and Marty spent most of their free time with family.

Joyce was a member of The Jacksonville Literary Guild. Joyce also played Mahjong with her sisters-in-law and friends. She loved all forms of art, flowers, plants, birds, and animals. She enjoyed sitting on her patio to watch birds and listen to their song. She loved music and played records and the radio. Her children will always remember with delight when she brought home a phonograph with the first “Beatles” album.

Joyce’s summers were spent at the coast of North and South Carolina. She spent them with her sisters-in-law, sisters, and her children as well as all the nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.

Joyce was a loyal friend to many. She enjoyed listening to her friends’ stories and being a confidant. She was always ready and willing to help a friend in need.

Two of the greatest loves in her life were her son, Barry, whom she shared a special bond due to their mutual love of beauty, art, and music. Joyce was dedicated to her son, Todd who was born with medical challenges. Joyce and Marty made sure that Todd got an education in public school at a time when children with differences were not welcome. Todd lives in the family home.
Joyce and Marty divorced in 1991 and Joyce met her soulmate, Stephen “Steve” Danford. They have lived in the family home since 1996.

Joyce is survived by Steve Danford, Todd Popkin, Gregory Popkin and his wife, Victoria, their children Chase, and Skylar, of Jacksonville and Hubert, N.C., and Cindy Popkin-Bradley and her daughter, Margaret of Raleigh, N.C. She is also survived by her sisters, nieces and nephews and friends.

Finally, the family would like to acknowledge William “Bill” Palmer Lamback who is a life-long friend of the family. Bill has worked with and cared for Joyce and Todd for more than 18 years. We are eternally grateful.

Graveside Funeral service will be 11 am Thursday, March 17, 2022 at B’Nai Israel Cemetery, 18th and Princess Place Drive, Wilmington, NC.

Share memories and condolences with the family by visiting the “Condolence” tab.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403


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  • March 16, 2022
    Lynda Humphrey says:
    Oh how much I loved delivering flowers to her on all the occasions.I always wanted to take it so I could see her and Todd .Joyce loved to see me and we would catch up.I’m so sad for y’all.Will be praying for you Cindy Greg and Todd luv y’all so much.

  • March 17, 2022
    Billy Dennis says:
    As a young boy Marty (Big Dad ) played a big roll in my life . Remember very well Joyce when Marty would take me down to Swansboro and enjoy boating. Joyce was a beautiful lady who lived her life to the fullest I grew up taking the Popkin kids to Hebrew school to practice for their Bar mitzvah and bi mitzvah .They treated me like family. I learned a lot about Jewish religion and went to their Bar Mitzahs I want to publicly thank them for the love the gave me. Also to Greg ,Cindy,Todd ,Steve my prayer for you all is God will bless you with strength to get through this difficult time in your life’s . Remember you have a friend always in Billly Dennis. Rest In Peace Joyce .

  • March 17, 2022
    Clyde Hurst says:
    Joyce was a one of a kind sweet Lady. Enjoyed many nights at Ducks during dinner. She will be missed. God Bless

  • March 18, 2022
    Rebecca Gurganus says:
    I so much enjoyed seeing and talking to Joyce, she was so full of life. Our deepest condolences to the Popkin family. Rebecca and Kenny Gurganus

  • March 18, 2022
    Wayne Miracle says:
    Our Birth is the onset of our lives, which is a journey through time. Our destination is always known, only the timing of the end of the journey is unknown. I think it was King David who said, “At dawn, life blossoms and renews itself; at dusk, it withers and dries up.” So, it is what we do in the midday often defines us! What I have read in the obituary is what defined Joyce and is true to what I remember of Joyce and her family. May she rest in peace! I only knew Joyce personally for a few years while I worked at Warehouse Sales. Most days she would bring Todd by after school, where he would do his homework and offer us words of wisdom. Joyce was always a kind, friendly person. A loving mother, as I saw it. My condolences to Todd, Cindy and Margaret, and Greg, Victoria, Chase, and Skylar.