Cullman Regional’s Lights of Love held, honoring Dr. Robert Echols


Attendees gather outside Cullman Regional Thursday night at the annual Dr. Herman C. Ensor Lights of Love Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – The Cullman Regional Foundation hosted the annual Dr. Herman C. Ensor Lights of Love Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Thursday evening, and this year the Foundation Board honored Dr. Robert L. Echols, who passed away in September. Family and friends of Echols were special guests and Foundation Board Member Danny McAfee delivered a special tribute.

McAfee said of Echols, “He was one who dedicated countless hours of service to the medical community. He gave 44 years of service to the field of medicine. His legacy continues. 

“He was known to many as simply ‘Doc’ and he will always be remembered as a selfless physician, a gentleman of integrity and friend to all. He was board-certified in emergency medicine and worked the past 23 years at Cullman Regional. Countless patients and their families were blessed by his remarkable ability to diagnose, his unforgettable compassion, love and sometimes humor.”

Echols was quoted as saying, “Even if you didn’t pay me, I’d be here doing this.”

After the touching tribute, attendees enjoyed a musical program featuring the First Kids Chorus and Ladies Ensemble from Cullman First Baptist Church. The final performance was a trio of Dr. and Mrs. David Shupe, on tuba and bassoon, and Ken Simpson on piano. 

Staying true to tradition, everyone moved outside for the lighting of the tree. Miss Wallace State Emma Wright led the singing of “Silent Night” as the grandchildren of Dr. Echols lit the Christmas tree. 

Cullman Regional Foundation Executive Director Maria Stanford said, “The mission of the Cullman Regional Foundation is to advance healthcare excellence at Cullman Regional.”

Lights of Love is one of several fundraisers the Foundation holds throughout the year. Donors gave gifts of love for $20, $40, $60 or more to place lights on the Christmas tree as tributes to someone special.

Said Stanford, “This year’s Lights of Love has raised more than the previous years. The money raised this year has helped purchase cardiac monitors and defibrillators for all the CEMS (Cullman Emergency Medical Services) ambulances.”

The 11 cardiac monitors and defibrillators cost $352,000; the Foundation was able to give $175,000, while the hospital paid the difference. 

Cullman EMS Director James Curtis explained, “The new equipment is an excellent investment for the community. The monitors can measure blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, respiratory rate and other data. The data is imported into the patient’s healthcare record. The equipment can help in early recognition of strokes or give sepsis alerts.”

The new equipment allows real-time communication between the ambulances and hospital. 

The Cullman Regional Foundation continues to take Lights of Love donations throughout the holidays. Acknowledgment cards are sent to those honored or to families of those remembered.

“It’s a great way to give the gift of love,” said Stanford.

Lights can be purchased online, by phone or in person. For more information visit or call 256-737-2565.

About Lights of Love:

“Named in memory of the late Dr. Herman Ensor, who established this event, the tree lighting ceremony enables members of the community to honor or remember family and friends. For a minimum donation of $20, a personalized card is sent to the honoree or family of those being remembered. Refreshments are served while guests enjoy reflective, meaningful Christmas music while the tree is lit atop the hospital.”

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