Hunt family establishes John E. Hunt Memorial Scholarship, annual golf tournament

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Longtime Cullman Parks and Recreation Director John Hunt pictured with his family. Front L-R: Kayla Hunt (Strickland), Elizabeth Hunt, John Hunt, Lauren Hunt (Peek). Back L-R: Hannah Hunt (Shelton), Ryan Hunt, Wilson Strickland, Cade Peek. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hunt.)

CULLMAN, Ala. – It’s been just over a year since longtime Cullman Parks and Recreation Director John Hunt passed away but his impact on the community can still be seen and felt every day. Now, John’s family, along with the Cullman Auburn Alumni Center, have set up a scholarship in his name to continue supporting local students and help them pursue their goals. The John E. Hunt Memorial Scholarship will be given each year to a Cullman County student going to Auburn University.

Hunt served as Cullman’s Parks and Recreation Director for over 22 years before retiring from the department in 2014, helping to lay the groundwork for many of the parks and facilities we still enjoy today. John also served as the Golf Director at Terri Pines Country Club before accepting a position at Sand Mountain Park in Albertville. During John’s memorial service at Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center last June, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs spoke about the impact John has had on this community and the legacy he has left behind.

“Heritage Park was the beginning of turning Cullman Parks and Recreation from a rec league, into a sports tourism department known throughout the southeastern United States. It wasn’t an easy project because no one understood it and pretty much no one believed what it would become,” Jacobs said. “But, after the success of Heritage Park, other projects followed. It’s easier to get people to believe in you after you’ve had a success. So, John came up with Chester (Freeman) and we built Field of Miracles. The facility that you’re in today took a few years, but with John and Chester’s persuasion, it became a reality and with his leadership, Cullman became an important parks and recreation department, for all citizens. He strived to build something that everyone can enjoy, from a child of all abilities to senior adults. All of the departments he tried to make top notch. This is his professional legacy, and Cullman is a much better place.”

Biography for Auburn University’s John E. Hunt Memorial Endowed Scholarship

“John E. Hunt believed education could change a life and brighten a future. He graduated from Auburn University in 1986. He knew the university as a place of learning, family, tradition, dedication, hard work and life-long friendship. The education, values, relationships, and experiences he took with him from Auburn shaped a well-lived life of service as a mentor and community leader.

In the workplace, John used his training in health and recreation to build a thriving and award-winning parks and recreation program in the City of Cullman, Alabama. He knew the power of sport to build strong individuals and unite communities, and he kept that as his focus as he employed staff, managed budgets, and developed programs for the city over the course of 25 years. Those same guiding principles never wavered in his other recreational roles in the communities of Albertville, Dothan and Montgomery.

John’s vision and efforts extended into the community as a board member for the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association, board member of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer leader with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and as a leader in his church. For many years he participated in and then led community-wide events including an annual Thanksgiving meal, serving those in need. 

John’s scholarship recognizes his family’s Auburn legacy, which includes his wife Elizabeth, a 1989 graduate, daughter Kayla (2013), son Ryan (2017), daughter Lauren (2020), and daughter-in-law Hannah (2016). In establishing this scholarship in John’s memory, Elizabeth said, “In our family and in our community, John left a legacy of honoring the value and potential in each person and empowering that person through education and service. It’s that legacy we continue with this scholarship.”

“And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.”

-George Petrie (1943)

War Eagle!”

In addition to establishing the scholarship, John’s family is also working to organize an annual John E. Hunt Golf Tournament. The proceeds from the tournament will go towards each year’s scholarship fund and the inaugural event is set for August 28 at Cross Creek Golf Course in Cullman. If you’re looking for more information about the tournament or want to register, you can contact Lauren Hunt Peek at lhnoo29@auburn.edu or call 256-595-3771.

John spent decades working to add or improve on the parks and facilities within his community and now, with a scholarship in his name, he’ll be able to continue helping local students accomplish their goals at the university he loved.

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