Bert McGriff

Bert McGriff is seen at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce 74th annual meeting and gala.

Local business icon Bert McGriff died Saturday at his Cullman home.

McGriff was one of Cullman’s most successful business leaders, and a key contributor to the community’s business and industrial growth through the second half of the 20th Century. As one of the “Flying Fifty,” a group of local leaders who in 1955 consolidated their efforts to boost Cullman County into a diversified economy, McGriff was instrumental in helping recruit industry and outside interest to the area and in ushering in a long period of stable local growth that continues to this day.

McGriff, who passed away at the age of 94, served on several boards in Cullman, developed numerous projects like the Cullman Shopping Center and Terri Pines Country Club, and was a founding member of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce. He was known locally for sharing his success with his community, and for promoting his hometown whenever possible.

Born in 1926, McGriff worked alongside his family and father as tenant farmers, leaving home in 1942 to join the U.S. Armed Forces. He served during WWII in the Pacific Campaign, including the invasion of Okinawa. Awarded the Purple Heart for his service, McGriff returned to Cullman and built McGriff Industries, which would go on to become one of the most prominent businesses in Cullman County.

Upon returning to Cullman from service in 1947, McGriff accepted a job with Ingalls Shipping. The following year, he was offered an opportunity to become an operator for Shell Oil Company, leading to additional opportunities that would result in his founding the Cullman-based business that still bears his family name.

Beginning in 1948 and continuing through the present day, McGriff’s company grew under his direction, in accordance with his philosophy of fairness, hard work, excellent customer service, and striving to do your best no matter the job. Under his guidance, the company eventually grew  into a diversified transportation services business. At its present size, the business now employs more than 380 people in locations throughout both Alabama and Tennessee. 

Funeral services for McGriff will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Desperation Church. Because of public health guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, seating will be limited. The service will be broadcast online at DesperationChurch.tv, Desperation Church's Facebook page, and the Desperation Church YouTube channel.

Read the complete obituary here.

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