Edwin Thomas “Tom” Cleveland — longtime pastor and leader at Samford University — died April 26. He was 83.
Cleveland attended Georgetown College in Kentucky and graduated from Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham. He earned a master of divinity and doctor of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cleveland served as dean of admissions and director of financial aid at Samford for more than two decades. He assisted many students there with immediate practical needs, whether they were financial, personal or spiritual.
Mike Shaw, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Pelham, posted on Facebook that Cleveland led his freshman orientation and became a “mentor and friend.”
Shaw said the “Godly influence” of Cleveland and other Samford faculty and staff helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from college and encouraged him to go to seminary and continue learning.
Cleveland also served as pastor of a number of churches in Alabama and Kentucky, including Valley View Baptist Church, Leeds; Woodland Hills Baptist Church, Bessemer; and Carson Road Baptist Church, Center Point, which closed in 2012.
After he retired, Cleveland served for many years as a hospital chaplain in Birmingham.
Throughout his life, he also invested in the community. For 30 years, he served as the chair of Rotary District 6860’s Group Study Exchange Program, leading 26 International exchanges. He was awarded the Rotary International Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award in 1993.
Cleveland was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Sue, and two great-grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; two sons, Edwin “Ed” and William “Bill”; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.