Home ♃ Recent Stories ☄ Chervis Isom, Longtime Birmingham Civic Leader, Dies at 84

Chervis Isom, Longtime Birmingham Civic Leader, Dies at 84


By Joseph D. Bryant | jbryant@al.com

Chervis Isom, the author, longtime Birmingham attorney, and mainstay of civic engagement, has died.

Isom died unexpectedly while overseas Thursday. He was 84.

News of Isom’s death sparked tributes from people who knew and worked with him over the decades.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin called Isom a devoted advocate for the city.

“A proud product of the Norwood neighborhood, Chervis loved Birmingham,” Woodfin told AL.com. “He was a great proponent of diversity and equality. As a civic-minded leader, he played a key role in the creation and placement of the memorial to the four little girls at Kelly Ingram Park. He will be missed.”

Don Lupo, director of the Birmingham Mayor’s Office of Citizens Assistance, lamented the loss of a friend and humble civic leader.

In a Facebook post, Lupo said that Isom, “saw the good in us and worked tirelessly on overcoming the bad.”

Even with Isom’s accomplishments, he’ll be remembered for his humility and reputation as a man who was approachable, a man who extended a hand of friendship to everyone he encountered, Lupo said.

“Chervis Isom was a really big deal, but no one would ever know it because of the way he treated everyone he came in contact with including me,” said Lupo.

On Facebook, Birmingham writer and editor Mark Kelly recalled his 2014 interview with Isom about his memoir “The Newspaper Boy: Coming of Age in Birmingham, Alabama, During the Civil Rights Era.” The book is an unvarnished look at Birmingham through the eyes of a white child coming of age in the 1950s.

“Chervis was one of a kind, ‘a bird in this world,’ as the old folks used to say,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly said Isom’s book is a strong illustration of his character.

“His own words are the best possible testament to his legacy as a caring, concerned, thoughtful, humble, and loving man,” Kelly wrote. “Thanks for everything, Chervis.”

Isom graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1962, then earned his law degree at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law in 1967.

Isom practiced law for nearly 50 years, rising to senior counsel in the Birmingham office of Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, where he worked for 48 years. He remained a fixture in civic organizations and initiatives.