Max Cleland
1942 - 2021
BORN
1942
DIED
2021
FUNERAL HOME
Henry Funeral Home
6833 Church Street
Lithonia, GA
Former U.S. senator and Veterans Administration leader Max Cleland of Georgia died Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, more than 53 years after a live grenade dropped by a fellow soldier in Vietnam robbed him of three limbs. He was 79.

The injuries, however, did not take the unfettered optimism and grit that helped him climb from Georgia politics to some of the nation's top offices.

A Democrat bound to a wheelchair most of his adult life, the 79-year-old Cleland was one of the first veterans from the killing grounds of Southeast Asia to enter American politics. He took a state senator's seat in 1971, three years after his wounding, and went on to serve as top administrator in the U.S. Veterans Administration, as Georgia Secretary of State, a U.S. senator and an appointee in other federal agencies.

Cleland died at his Atlanta home from heart failure, according to a close friend and caregiver.

Max is survived by his cousins, Emily Carden Foster, Mercer T. Cleland, Jr., William 'Bobby' Cleland, Sara Ellen Cleland Wilkinson, Linda Cleland Breedlove, Brenda Cleland Worthey, Wayne Cleland, Helen Cleland, Wendell Powell, Marcia Kesler Attaway, Phillip William Kesler, Gary Ronald Kesler and lifelong friends to Max and the family, Bill and Betty Chapman, Wayne and Nell Howell, Bill Daniel and devoted friend, Linda A. Dean.

His obituary said the family would like to extend a special thank you to Max's ""Hidden Heroes"" who extended love, support and comfort to Max daily. Thank you to the Staff at Emory University Hospital, Long Leaf Palliative & Hospice Care, Dr. Paul Cox, Mrs. Eva Henson, Dorothy Horton, Bubber Waters, Jason Moon, Steve Edwards, Aubrey Lukwesa, Brian C. Chitomfwa, Mike Olson, Jim Galloway, Jason Meininger and Alan Smith.

A private graveside service will be held and a celebration of Max Cleland's life will be held at a later date. Henry Funeral Home and Cremation in Lithonia is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hugh & Juanita Kesler Cleland Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Max Cleland Leadership Program at Stetson University.

Stetson University Development Office, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., Unit 8286, DeLand, FL 32723. Online at: https://www.stetson.edu/administration/development/give.php

Read more about Max Cleland on ajc.com: Full obituary, an appreciation by columnist Patricia Murphy and photos of Max Cleland through the years.
Published by Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 9, 2021.
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28 Entries
Max and I met at EXIM Bank and we became friends. He always had time to sit and talk. He will be greatly missed.
Susan Houser
Friend
November 29, 2021
Max was one of my closest friends. He had been a close friend of my late husband, Mort Silberman for many years, and after Mort's passing I got to know Max as my good friend, too. He was a man of great integrity, and had a heart of gold. I will miss him tremendously.
Joan Wilson
Friend
November 14, 2021
A true American hero strong at the broken places who most certainly changed the lives of those close to him and countless others through his writings. He is a bright shinning star now. God Bless him.
Tom Morrow
November 14, 2021
I owe you Brother. 1968 changed my life. You will always be remembered.
stefan miller
Other
November 13, 2021
I was honored to know Max. When he came to DeLand,Florida to attend Stetson University functions , I assisted him at dinners. His charm and knowledge through his attributes in legislation will forever be embedded in our history. Max may you Rest In Peace and you and Michael Fronk behave!!
Cheryl Lankford
November 11, 2021
Max Cleland was a special man and friend of mine. Blessings to his family and friends. He is now resting in his parents arms and the Lord. No more pain and suffering.
Mary Lou Cagle
Friend
November 11, 2021
With deepest sympathy to his wonderful family, friends, care takers, and Ms Linda Dean ** he was loved bye each one and will treasure his memories. God Bless each one.
Eva A Henson
Friend
November 10, 2021
This is old Keith at the Strongarm switchboard. I'm sending this message on ward and upward. I know the rest of the crew at Phu Bia/Hue are waiting at there radio's to wish 26 Mike a swell journey. You're certainly one of those thousand points of light that the elder George Bush talked about. You were not just a Platoon Leader to us all, you were one of us, an equal and that made a commo team that was unbeatable. Take care Sir, and remember it was "done yesterday........ The guys at the 13th Signal Battalion
Keith Johnson
Friend
November 10, 2021
Sorry to learn of Mr. Cleland's passing , I liked his performance while the V.A. Chief when he brought new policies and improvement to the agency! God Bless and R.I.P. Thanks, Pete Cullen , Vietnam Vet
Peter Cullen
Other
November 10, 2021
I wish to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Max Cleland. I am always grateful to those veterans who have served our country. Mr. Cleland was a true hero who served in the military and in our government. My husband is also a veteran and I am grateful for the work Mr. Cleland did to improve the the VA health system. Our country needs men and women of his character to lead us in these tumultuous times.
Veronica Min Wotipka
November 10, 2021
I met Max when I served under his leadership on the Georgia State Election Board. He consistently demonstrated determined leadership many times under difficult and unfair circumstances. He was a good man and truly an outstanding American. Bernard Taylor
Bernard Taylor
Friend
November 10, 2021
Farewell My good Friend & Mentor! RIP with Curtis Atkinson
Jonathan Dodd
November 10, 2021
Max and I have best friends since 1987. He was truly one of a kind. The sweetest man I have ever known. My dear friend I will miss you so very much. Rest In Peace. Your Show-me Peach!
Glenda Whitley-Savat
Friend
November 10, 2021
We love you cuz
wayne Cleland
November 10, 2021
Max was an incredible person; inspired all of us, especially me, with his courage and service. His book, (and he wrote several) Heart of a Patriot, moved me and I wrote to him about it and was surprised he took the time to write back. I am an Army Brat in his age group and knew what he went through. His presence on earth for 79 years continues to lift me. He is missed.
Jane Woods Alexander
Friend
November 10, 2021
I met Max on several occasions in Augusta, Georgia. I am retired military and he often asked for me to sit at his side at Democratic Party Breakfasts. He was one of the nicest men I have ever met. I totally admired him. This man wasn't black or white, republican or democrat, he was an American Hero. GOD bless him. May he rest in peace.
Beth Schoeffler
Other
November 10, 2021
Max thank you for your brotherhood m. Thank you for your friendship and especially thank you for your service to all US veterans
Michael R. Militello
November 9, 2021
Genuine is not a word we often associate with politicians, but I experienced Max Cleland's genuineness firsthand. I met him briefly at an event in 2005. I was just a college student starting out in life, awed to be in his presence, but he was as attentive to me as if I had accomplished something out of the ordinary and possessed the wisdom of vast experience. He took my name and address and promised to mail me his memoir. Not only did he promptly follow through on his promise, he wrote me a personalized note and encouraged me in my future endeavors. What a giant of a man -- one who attained great heights but never looked down on anyone, and never lost sight of individual people. He truly embodied the creed of service that exuded as much humanity as it did strength. That is why, I think, he was as effective a leader in civilian life as he was on the battlefield. Our ailing country could use more leaders of his stature today. We will all miss him and the sterling example he set.
Andrew Almanza
November 9, 2021
Serving under your Secretary of State leadership was one of my life's greatest honors. Your commitment to service was a model for all who knew you and all who were served by you. Rest in peace, Great Georgian.
Alan Marshall Yorker
Work
November 9, 2021
Thank you for your public service , help and friendship throughout the years. You will be truly missed.
Dr Lori Ugolik
Friend
November 9, 2021
You have finish your course. Rest well, my friend. To God be the Glory!
Calvin Stevens, SMSgt Retired-US Air Force
Friend
November 9, 2021
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, LOVE FOR GEORGIA AND YOUR COUNTRY. YOU JUST BROUGHT SUCH SPECIAL TIMES TO A LOT OF PEOPLE AND GAVE SO MUCH. 1860 BEALLS MACON GA, CARROLL OCONNER, GEORGE STEPHANOPOLIS, GOV JOSEPH (BOB) KERRY, LUNCHEON FOR ME AND CO-WORKERS FROM ROBINS AFB. DOUGLAS GA FOR VETERAN'S DAY. ATLANTA GATHERINGS FOR SO MANY WHO JUST ADORED YOU. YOU GAVE SO MUCH AND BRIGHTENED SO MANY LIVES. THANK YOU FOREVER YOUR KINDNESS WILL NEVER BE FOREGOTTEN AND THE MEMORIES WILL LIVE ON FOREVER. THANK YOU
JUDY HESTER RAMSEY
Friend
November 9, 2021
I served on the State Electiion Board with him. Affable and a great American.
Oscar Persons
November 9, 2021
A great loss of a great public servant.
McCracken Poston
Work
November 9, 2021
Max made me a better person in life. He was not only a good man, a great American Hero, and fellow Vietnam Vet, but my friend, my brother in life, and I will miss him. He touched so many lives. ' I can say go now Max and don't let the wind hit your back, as the tears hit our faces and the path of life fades in the darkness. As you travel your next chapter in the grace of GOD>.....we all our blessed just to have know you......Godspeed, dear freind...
John Marshall
Family
November 9, 2021
I met Senator Cleland in a cafeteria. He was a true patriot. I do not know if we will see such a fine man again. My condolences to his family.
Paul Yusem
November 9, 2021
Max - You were a huge inspiration to me. I'll never forget you taking the time to come speak to our High School Class back in 1985. You left me thinking forever on how I can contribute in any way that I can, regardless to how well I am prepared to assist.
Scott Grove
Other
November 9, 2021
Farewell to a true legend.
Ann Marchetti Mintz
Work
November 9, 2021
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