Cover photo for Samantha J. Cleland's Obituary
Samantha J. Cleland Profile Photo
1992 Sammy 2024

Samantha J. Cleland

February 26, 1992 — May 26, 2024

Arbela Twp.

Service information:
Visitation 3-7 pm on Monday June 3, 2024 at Hanlin Funeral Home in Millington.
Celebration of Life beginning at 7:00pm Monday June 3, 2024 at the funeral home.
Kindly share a memory with Samantha's family in the guestbook below.

Samantha Jean Cleland, loving daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend, died suddenly at her home Sunday morning May 26th, 2024.

Samantha leaves behind her parents, Dale and Sara Cleland (of Millington), three
sisters, Shannon Cleland-Robbins (of Midland), Dayna Cleland and husband Julio Pérez-Diego (of Spain), and Sierra Cleland (of Akron, OH), nieces Ashlynn and Claire Robbins, special cousins Laura and Breanna Sylvia, and numerous other, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Especially Ohlashia Cowley (Aminy), Mellicha Gleason, Kathy and Chloe Seghers, and Kyle Hemingway.

Predeceasing Samantha are her paternal grandparents Kathryn and Howard Cleland,
adoptive maternal grandparents Jean and Harold Morrow, her biological maternal grandparents Sally Tadajewski and David Gapske, aunts Donna Jasmin and Ila VanBrocklin, uncle Edward Gapske, and four cousins Natalie Merriman, Karen O’Donnell, Jennifer Morrow, and Heather Gapske.

Samantha started out life smiling. At just a few days old, sitting in her swing, she smiled at the scrubbing bubbles toy sitting on the tray. As an older baby, she would laugh, kick, and slam her torso and legs on the changing table with gusto as her mother sang, “Sammy go boom!” Before kindergarten, Samantha loved watching The Little Mermaid and The Lion King movies. She could recite lines of The Lion King verbatim before she was able to hold a conversation. Samantha had a great memory, even into adulthood. Throughout her life, if you wanted to know when something happened (like a wedding) all you had to do was ask Samantha.

Early on, Samantha was diagnosed with a mid-line processing learning impairment. She took longer to learn things and had difficulty with math. However, this didn’t stop Samantha from learning. Her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Stilson, encouraged Samantha to read by having her sing the words written on the screen of a karaoke machine. Mrs. Stilson also took Samantha’s class to a senior living facility in Frankenmuth, where Samantha was able to bring joy to the elderly. Samantha’s passion for caring for those in need may have been sparked from this early experience. 

Samantha continued through school, working hard to overcome her learning difficulties, and was quite successful. Outside of her regular academic classes, she enjoyed being in band, choir, and doing a little weightlifting.

During high school, Samantha began to struggle with her mental health and was
eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The medications helped with her mental health, but worsened her physical health.

After high school, Samantha went to the Tuscola Transition Center in Caro for two years. She was able to have fun, meet new people, and volunteer at various job sites like State Farm, Goodwill, Tuscola County Medical Care Facility, and Cameron Adult Foster Care. After completing her volunteering, Samantha was hired by Cameron Adult Foster Care.

Samantha worked for Cameron House, taking care of the people there, treating each with dignity, respect, and kindness. With Samantha, no one was ever “less than.” Years later, Samantha visited Cameron House, and upon arriving in the driveway, a window opened, and a client stuck her head out of the window, started waving, smiling, and yelling “Sammy!!!”

After her Cameron House experience, Samantha aspired to become a social worker and enrolled in Delta College. She took classes in child, adolescent, and abnormal psychology, as well as macroeconomics, juvenile justice, American sign language, and many more. As she progressed in her education, Samantha was frequently on the Dean’s and President’s lists, even during the pandemic. She was also accepted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which she was quite proud of.

While attending classes at Delta, Samantha was employed as a direct care worker in Midland. Among the clients she cared for, Samantha especially enjoyed caring for a deaf man and young man with down syndrome. They were special to her, and she always found ways to connect with them both on a personal level. She was able to put her sign language skills to use with her deaf client. Samantha was missed by them after leaving. Samantha also worked for a nursing care facility in Grand Blanc as a patient sitter for a client with dementia.

Samantha was in the process of transferring to SVSU this fall and was excited to qualify for the legacy scholarship, as her mother had graduated from SVSU. She was looking forward to meeting new people, new professors, and becoming familiar with a new campus.

Most recently, Samantha worked for the Peer Center in Caro. She liked being in a position of responsibility while enjoying social interactions with her peers, like going bowling, playing bingo, going to the movies, and attending the holiday parties. Samantha was proud to have taught one of her peers to play gin thirteen.

Besides playing gin thirteen, Samantha loved playing Skip-Bo, dominoes, arcade
games, Lion King Monopoly, Nintendo games (especially Double Dragon, which she defeated), Nintendo Switch games, as well as fishing, swimming, assembling LEGO sets, riding roller coasters, painting, collecting vintage Barbie sets, watching Young Sheldon and classic Disney movies (like The Lion King and Lady and the Tramp), and she especially loved listening to music, particularly rap music and the throwback lunch at noon.

Samantha was a kind and loving soul that left this world too soon. She made a difference in the lives of those around her, and her caring nature will never be forgotten. Samantha will be missed each and every day. Her unexpected passing reminds us that we are not promised another day, so stop and smell the roses, and spend time with those you love.

In Samantha’s own words, from her voicemail greeting, “Have a blessed day. Bye now.”
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Samantha J. Cleland, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, June 3, 2024

3:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Hanlin Funeral Home - Millington

4823 W. Main Street, Millington, MI 48746

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Monday, June 3, 2024

Starts at 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Hanlin Funeral Home - Millington

4823 W. Main Street, Millington, MI 48746

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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