THOMASTON - Dr. Edwin L. Cliburn, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church, died after a brief illness at his home in Thomaston on Saturday, February 1, 2014.
Funeral services for Dr. Cliburn will be held Friday, February 7, 2014 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Thomaston. Rev. Bill Barber, Rev. Ted Kandler and Rev. Jack Maguire will officiate and burial will follow in South View Cemetery.
Dr. Cliburn was born in Newnan, Ga., on April 2, 1927, but grew up in Columbus, Ga. During World War II and the Korean War, he served in the United States Marine Corps. During his first tour of duty, he answered a call to the Christian ministry. He was a 1950 graduate of Mercer University and earned graduate degrees at New Orleans Baptist and Southern Baptist seminaries.
His ministry was spent primarily in Georgia where he served as a youth minister with the Tattnall Square Baptist Church in Macon during 1949 and 1950, and as minister of education at the First Baptist Church of Macon from 1954 to 1957. For 24 years, 1957 to 1981, he was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Thomaston. During this time he also served as a trustee of Tift College in Forsyth, the Baptist Village in Waycross, Mercer University in Macon, as president of the Georgia Baptist Sunday School Convention, as vice-president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and many denominational committees. From 1970 to 1973, he chaired a special bi-racial committee to facilitate the integration of the Thomaston City Schools.
He moved away from Thomaston in 1981 and closed out his ministry as the Assistant Executive Director-Treasurer of the Georgia Baptist Convention, retiring in 1994 and returning to Thomaston. During his tenure with the Convention and in retirement, he served as interim pastor of 26 different congregations in Atlanta and this area. Among these were East Thomaston (3 times) The Rock, Antioch, Fellowship, First Baptist Manchester, Milner (2 times) New Hope, Shiloh, First Baptist Thomaston, Emory's Chapel, Silvertown, Valley Grove and Concord. He preached almost every Sunday until his 84th birthday. During his long ministry, he preached 64 revivals, married hundreds of couples and participated in almost 1,000 funerals.
Dr. Cliburn served as Mayor of Thomaston from 1996-1999, as a member of the Industrial Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Health. During his long membership in the Upson Historical Society he once served as its president and for a number of years he edited their newsletter, writing many articles on local history. He also authored two volumes on local history: In Unbroken Line, a history of the First Baptist Church and Proud to be from R. E. Lee, a history of Thomaston's beloved school. In addition to these books, he wrote four volumes of family history which also chronicled his own life's story. In 1999 the Chamber of Commerce awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Marjorie Lundy Cliburn of Columbus. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Wilson Cliburn of Barnesville; his sister, Helen Cliburn Blumhagen of Columbus; three children, Wayne E. (Lucy) Cliburn of Vienna, VA; Ellen C. (Henry) Slack of Decatur, and Susan C. Murray (Don) of Mooresville, NC. Also surviving him are four step-children, Kerry G. (Louise) Wilson of Milner, Jackie W. (Tony) Laney of Griffin, Danny S. Wilson of Griffin, and Eddie N. (Julie) Wilson of Barnesville. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, seven step-grandchildren, one great grandchild, fifteen step-great grandchildren, and four nieces and nephews.
The family of Dr. Cliburn will receive friends at Pasley-Fletcher Funeral Home on Thursday from 6 until 8 pm and then again on Friday in the Fellowship Hall of the First Baptist Church from 12:30 until 2 pm.
Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church Foundation, 208 South Church St., Thomaston, GA 30286.
Pasley-Fletcher Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Remembrances and condolences may be expressed at www.pasleyfletcher.com