Rev. Joseph Braxton Wynns

Published 6:53 pm Saturday, March 30, 2024

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The much beloved Rev. Joseph Braxton Wynns, 94, of Columbia, NC, passed away of natural causes Monday March 11, 2024. Known to many as “Papa Joe,” Mr. Wynns served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps and in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars before leaving the service to answer God’s call to the Christian ministry. He was quick to offer a smile, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or whatever else a person needed to show them he loved them, and more importantly, God loved them.

Born November 23, 1929, in Powellsville, NC to millwright James Braxton Wynns and Annie Norvell Wynns just as the Great Depression started, Papa Joe was known to regale family and friends with happy stories of the mischief he and his brothers, Adrian and Larry, would get in to. Despite the hardships of the times, his childhood reminiscences of running through swamps to train the sheriff department’s bloodhounds, boxing with a neighborhood bully, afternoons spent at the matinee, and moonlit double dates with high school sweethearts never ceased to be a delight despite multiple tellings.

His happiest stories usually involved the late Evelyn Overton Wynns, the love of his life and wife of 56 years. The prettiest girl in town and star of the high school basketball team, Papa Joe never ceased to credit her for her support during his many base transfers, overseas deployments, and constant pastoral duties. Together they created a loving and supportive home for their five children.

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As a child, Mr. Wynns had dreamed of being a radio or movie star. He had a lifelong love and encyclopedic knowledge of the stars and films of Hollywood’s golden era with a special fondness for Westerns. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1950 and eventually achieved the rank of Master Sergeant specializing in aircraft maintenance. While Mr. Wynns was on a troop ship headed for a year-long deployment in the Korean War he committed his life to Christ.

After leaving the military, Mr. Wynns attended Chowan Jr. College and Campbell College and earned a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His ministerial career spanned six decades and multiple congregations throughout Northeastern North Carolina where he officiated baptisms, weddings, and funerals for multiple generations of families, including his own. In addition to his full time pastorates at Cool Spring Baptist Church in Eure, Eureka Baptist Church in Corapeake, Columbia Missionary Baptist Church in Columbia and Soundside Missionary Baptist Church in Columbia, Mr. Wynns often served as the interim pastor for churches in need. For over 30 years Mr. Wynns led a monthly service at Frying Pan Free Will Baptist Church and for many years served as chaplain to the Tyrrell County Volunteer Fire Department. Never one to believe a pastor’s job stopped at the pulpit, Mr. Wynns spent countless hours with those who needed him at their homes, in potato fields, in hospitals and over a cup of coffee in his own kitchen. If a person needed a ride or simply a companion to a doctor ‘s appointment he was known to happily oblige if called. He was well into his eighties when he begrudgingly agreed to stop climbing on roofs to fix a shingle that needed fixing.

In his later years, Mr. Wynns enjoyed meals and fellowship at The Crossing, a local restaurant in Columbia which he visited on a near daily basis. He was quick to share a story, a joke, or one his patented “Have a Great Day Permit” cards which he always handed out with a smile.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn Overton Wynns, his parents James Braxton Wynns and Annie Norvell Wynns, and brothers Adrian Shaw Wynns and Larry Norvell Wynns. He is survived by children Joe Wynns Jr. and wife Bobbie Jean of Buies Creek, NC; Luanne Lentz of Kernersville, NC; Claudia Michelle “Miki” Wynns of Winston-Salem, NC; Michael Wynns and wife Samantha of Fort Lauderdale, FL and Mark Wynns and wife Jaime of Atlanta, GA. He’s also survived by eight grandchildren, six great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

A public visitation was held from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, March 21 and a public memorial service was held at 2 p.m. Friday, March 22, both at Soundside Missionary Baptist Church located at 2607 Sound Side Rd, Columbia, NC 27925

Online condolences may be directed to

Walker Funeral Home of Windsor is honored to serve the Wynns family.