Reverend, Dr. Edwin Thomas “Tom” Cleveland passed away in Birmingham, Alabama on April 26, 2021. He was born to Eddie and Genevieve Cleveland in Louisville, Kentucky on March 3, 1938. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary Sue (Pittman) Cleveland; his brother, Robert “Bob” Arthur Cleveland (Alice); and his great-grandchildren, Joshua Thomas Lyon and Caleb Roberson Lyon. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Phillips Cleveland; his brother, David L. Cleveland (Sharon); two sons, Edwin “Ed” Pittman Cleveland (Sharon); William “Bill” Thomas Cleveland (Jennifer); four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Tom attended Georgetown College and graduated from Howard College/Samford University in 1961. He received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was Dean of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid at Samford University for over two decades. Tom also pastored numerous churches in Alabama and Kentucky, and often served for periods of time as the interim pastor of countless churches. His notable pastorates include Stewart’s Creek Baptist Church in Lebanon, Kentucky; Valley View Baptist Church in Leeds, Alabama; Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama; and Carson Road Baptist Church in Center Point, Alabama. Upon retirement, Tom worked for many years as a hospice chaplain in Birmingham.
His life exemplified what it meant to be a servant leader. Tom joined the Rotary Club of Birmingham in 1977. He served Rotary in many official capacities. For 30 years Tom served as the chair of Rotary District 6860’s Group Study Exchange Program, leading 26 International exchanges. Tom was awarded the Rotary International Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award in 1993. He was a Paul Harris Fellow as were his two sons Ed and Bill. He assisted countless Samford students with their immediate practical needs whether they were financial, personal or spiritual.
Tom had a unique ability to get to know complete strangers within minutes and without judgement. He was THE consummate conversationalist. Tom loved to “work the room.” His love for missional work was evidenced by his commitment to missionary kids “MK’s” and their families. Tom’s knowledge of the scriptures and other religious faiths helped him to be a friend and brother to those who did not believe in Jesus Christ. He was the only Jesus some people ever knew. Tom was an excellent preacher and an excellent pastor. He was an avid, fast reader with total recall. He possessed a brilliant, sharp mind. In addition, he was huge University of Kentucky basketball fan and a member of the Birmingham Tip-Off Club.
Tom loved his entire family, especially his grandchildren, Lindsay Sue Lyon (Nathan); Edwin “Patrick” Cleveland (Claire); “Andrew” Evans Cleveland; Mary Katherine Cleveland; and greatgrandchildren, John Mark Lyon, and Ella Glenn Lyon.
Visitation will be held at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, Alabama at 10:00am on Monday, May 3 with a memorial service at 11:00am. Interment will follow at Currie-Jefferson Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens in Hoover, Alabama. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tom Cleveland and Mary Sue Cleveland Annual and Endowed Scholarship Fund at Samford University.
2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (KJV)