Harlie Pankey III-5-14-2021

Welcome to the
memorial page for 

Harlie Lee Pankey III

 January 23, 1965
~ May 7, 2021



VISITATION- Friday 5-14- 2021
Lawson Funeral Home & Cremation Services
243 Broadway
Long Branch, NJ 07740
10:00 AM-12:00 PM

FUNERAL SERVICE - Friday 5-14-2021
Lawson Funeral Home & Cremation Services
243 Broadway
Long Branch, NJ 07740
12:00 Noon
Link to view virtually: https://vimeo.com/548588517


Harlie Lee Pankey III, 56 of Sayreville, NJ passed away on Friday, May 7, 2021.  He was born on January 23, 1965 to the late Harlie Lee Pankey Jr. and Norma E. Stokes in Norfolk, Virginia.

Harlie attended Norfolk Public School System graduating from Booker T. Washington High School before going on to attend Norfolk State University where he played on the NSU Spartans football team with a full scholarship.  Norfolk State University is where he met his wife of 32 years, Sylvia Lee.

As a young man and after school Harlie worked in Pankey's Grocery Store owned by his parents.  This is where he learned about operating a business.

Harlie relocated to New Jersey in 1988 and made it his home.  This is where he developed his love of BBQ and learned how to master the skill of grilling taught to him by his father-in-law, Raymond.

He was a former Shop Steward at The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, also known as A&P from 1990 - 2005.  Harlie then decided to start a Barbecue Catering business, Big Harlie's Barbecue, LLC with his wife Sylvia.  He started by street vending at community town festivals and fairs.  He later became known throughout the community as the Barbecue Chef, aka Big Harlie.  In 2013, Big Harlie and Sylvia opened a brick and mortar called Big Harlie's BBQ in Sayreville.  He was known for his famous BBQ ribs, pulled pork and Beef Brisket, winning many awards.  He catered private tailgates for New York Giant games, Beverage Distributors, company picnics and many parties.

Harlie was a member of Second Baptist Church in Keyport, NJ.  He served on the culinary ministry for years.

Harlie was always full of life and loved people from all walks of life.  He enjoyed many trips back home to Norfolk, VA to visit his family and many special friends he grew up with aka, the Corner Boys.

Harlie was predeceased by his parents Harlie Lee Pankey Jr. and Norma E. Stokes.

He is survived by his wife, Sylvia; son Harlie L. (Jalisha) Smith, San Diego, CA; son Keyonde Johnson, Linden, NJ; brothers Lamont (Dana) Pankey, Duluth, GA and John Pankey, South Carolina; beloved granddaughter Milani Smith; nephews Eric Jr., Xavier and Christopher Pankey, Raymond Lee; nieces Bryana, Ayana and Alana Lee; father-in-law Raymond Lee, sister-in-law Terri (Derrell) Ellis, brother-in-laws Ralph and Ros Lee and Godchildren Tamika, Jacob, Makel, William, Kymberli; a host of special cousins, relatives and best friends.

My Dad had a smile that could light up a room and a voice that could close a door, but he also carried a heart bigger than this world...and all of these things will be truly missed by everyone.  With Love, Harlie


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4 thoughts on “Harlie Pankey III-5-14-2021

  1. Cathryn Gatson says:

    Sylvia and family, may the Lord give you comfort, peace and strength in your time of bereavement. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    The Gatson Family

  2. Darrell Lee says:

    Darrell Lee
    To Sylvia and little Harlie my heart, prayers, and love go out to you both
    As for Big Harlie, what can I said about a man with a heart of GOLD. Besides being my cuz he was my brother and most of all he was my friend. Just like my own brother Rodney, Harlie was someone that I could go to for help, advice, and to just talk without question. These last few days my heart’s been very heavy with grief. But I have found comfort knowing that he is in Heaven with my brother Rodney and they are both watching over the family together. Heavenly Bodyguards

  3. Barbara & Michael Nosti (Keyport Fishery) says:

    Our sincere condolences to Sylvia & the family! Harlie was a very amazing, kind, generous man! H always had a BIG happy smile on his face. We all @ Keyport Fishery will miss his smiling face. May you all, find the strength to move forward during this very difficult time. May Harlie rest peacefully until we all meet again!

    The Gang from Keyport Fishery!

  4. Catherine Britt says:

    No one had a heart bigger than you. You’ve always been a true friend/lil brother as far back as I can remember. My grandma kept you and John growing up and from than on y’all were a part of the family. Hanson Highway crew. Rest easy my lil brother. May the heavens open up wide to receive you. Your always have a special place in our hearts ❤️. Really going to miss you. Love Cathy

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