McGriff Tire Co. founder Bertis (Bert) McGriff died on July 11 at the age of 94.
A native of Cullman, Ala., McGriff worked with his family as tenant farmers before joining the U.S. Armed Forces in 1942, where he served in the Pacific Campaign during World War II and received a Purple Heart. He returned to Cullman in 1947 and became an operator for Shell Oil Co. the following year, which led to the establishment of McGriff Tire.
Under his direction, McGriff Tire grew "with his philosophy of 'be fair, work hard, provide excellent customer service and do your best no matter what the job, because you never know when someone is watching,'" according to his obituary. Today, McGriff Tire has 13 locations throughout Alabama and Tennessee and employs more than 380 people.
During his career, McGriff was a charter member of the Eldorado Tire Co. and served on the board of Hercules Tire for 12 years. He also was a founding member of the Alabama Tire Dealers Association.
In addition, McGriff was active in the Cullman community as a member of "The Flying 50's," a group that worked to bring new businesses and jobs to the city. He was a founding member of Cullman's Chamber of Commerce, served on the Cullman Hospital Board and was a charter member of the local Lion's Club. He also served on the board of several banks and was a partner in building Cullman's first shopping center.
"A selfless man, Bert lived his life helping others. He believed in giving back and lending a helping hand, whenever possible. The way he lived his life was a testament to his faith. He forgave freely, judged no one and befriended everyone."
Preceded by his parents, Lonnie and Bell McGriff, and his wife of 63 years, Berta Mae Holmes McGriff, he is survived by his children, Barry (Connie) McGriff, Cherri (Randy) Drake, Jeff (Cindy) McGriff and Terri (Tommy) Waldrop, plus eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He also is survived by sisters Jean Wynn, Betty Jones and Ellen Carroll and his brother, Curtis (Linda) McGriff.
In lieu of flowers, the McGriff family requests that donations be made to the WSCC Future Foundation Bert McGriff Endowed Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 568, Hanceville, Ala., 35077, or to the Desperation Church Building Fund, 510 5th St. SW, Cullman, Ala., 35055.