CULLMAN, Ala. – Richard T. Buettner recently retired from serving for the past 33 years as President/Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Public Cemetery of Cullman. The current members of the Board presented a plaque to Buettner in honor of his dedicated service Thursday Oct. Richard was asked to join the Board in 1988 after his uncle, Herman M. Buettner, was no longer able to serve. Richard’s grandfather, Hugo Buettner also served on the Board of Trustees.
Linda McPhillips, a member of the Board of Trustees for the cemetery, shared, “There was a Scarlet Fever epidemic in Cullman in 1882, and it took 6 hours for men to dig a grave because there were not tools such as backhoes. People were dying so quickly that they could not keep up with where the bodies of the deceased were buried. So, any records the cemetery normally kept were unable to be done because people were so afraid. Then later, the cemetery was moved, and Richard got an original piece of the fencing and actually recreated the original ironwork; and then has gone on to help develop better technology for the cemetery so records can be much better kept no matter what happens.”
Some of the many improvements to the cemetery under Richard Buettner’s leadership include upgrading water pipes and adding more storm drains, purchasing an additional five acres, renovating the office and maintenance buildings, planting trees and repairing storm damage.
McPhillips continued, “There was an area that had not been developed, and now the area on the hill has opened up and plots are selling there. Those areas were mucky and muddy but Richard developed and engineered the drainage for them so we can sell that land as well. It is just so beautiful there.”
“There has been a hedge added, and an arch. On Main Ave., they added some decorative trees. There was damage around where Colonel Kullman is buried and Richard took care of the tree, and it’s coming back around thanks to him. He has been an amazing overseer. When asked what all has he done, he has left this cemetery taken care of for the future.”
Mr. Buettner’s plaque inscription reads: “Thank you for your selfless hard work and efforts to set examples of dedicated commitment, service and leadership to this Board of Trustees
and to the citizens of Cullman who visit the cemetery, enjoy its beauty and peacefulness
and pay respect to those buried in the cemetery. We appreciate what you have done for this
community by serving diligently for 33 years. Your wisdom, talents and accomplishments
have helped establish high standards for the future operations of this beautiful historic
“There was a saying about how you were headed to Heaven if you went down 9th Street, because whether you went east or west, you were on your way to the Catholic cemetery or the Protestant cemetery,” McPhillips laughed. “Richard was one of the first people I ever heard say that. We are going to miss him dearly.”
Other members of the current Board of Trustees include Joe Hagan, Jerry Mobley, Linda
McPhillips, Cherri Drake, Roy Williams and Darrell Fuqua, cemetery sexton.
The Public Cemetery of Cullman is located at Ninth Street and Main Avenue SW in the city of
Cullman, but is operated as a non-profit cooperative, and is jointly owned by each individual
whom purchases a grave lot in the cemetery. The cemetery was established on March 3, 1881, when Colonel John G. Cullmann, Charles Albes and Adam Dreher incorporated it on land donated by Col. Cullmann.
The cemetery is open until dusk each day and the office hours are 7:00 a.m. –
3:30 p.m. on weekdays or by appointment. Decoration Day in the cemetery is always the
second Sunday in May. You are invited to come visit the cemetery, enjoy its exceptional
beauty and tranquility and find a peaceful spot to reflect on those buried here. Donations
may also be made to the perpetual care fund.
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