Obituary: William “W.C.” Carl Peinhardt

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William Carl ‘W.C.’ Peinhardt passed away on April 20, 2024.  He was 97 years old.

A true son of Cullman County, he was born in Cullman. After her husband’s death, Hattie bought land to farm in Johnson’s Crossing near her own family’s farm and built a house in 1936. Apart from his time in Auburn and the army, W.C. lived in that same house until he died there, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

He graduated from Hanceville High School in 1944 and spent a year at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (later renamed Auburn University) before being drafted into the U.S. Army during WWII. After serving in Namur, Belgium, W.C. came back home and completed two years at St. Bernard in Cullman before heading back to API where he earned his degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1950.

He began his career at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville with Wernher von Braun’s new rocket development team where he helped test the German V-1 and V-2 rocket equipment to see how it performed in humid Southeast conditions. When an opening became available at Greif Bros. Corporation in Cullman in 1951, W.C. jumped on the chance to drop the daily commute to Huntsville because he knew he would never leave his beloved farm. He retired from Greif Bros. in 1993 as VP of Engineering.

W.C. married Dorothea McNutt of Hanceville on April 4, 1951, and she helped him discover what became his true joy in life: family.  He and Dot had six children who, in turn, gave them ten grandchildren. The grandkids loved visiting the farm, where Mamaw and Papaw created wonderful memories with tractor rides, bonfires, and the occasional ice cream for breakfast. Mostly, though, they fostered a deep love family.  Dot died too soon in 2010 and never met their two great-grandchildren, who brought much joy to W.C.’s life.

He served in numerous capacities at Christ Lutheran, the church his father helped establish and where five generations have worshiped. He was elected to the board of the Cullman County Commission on Education from 1966-1971 and was chairman for the 1970-1971 term, and he served his community for years as a member of the Hanceville Lion’s Club.  In 1950, he had the distinction of being Cullman’s final Strawberry King.

W.C. is survived by his children and their spouses: Al and Cathy Peinhardt of Gearhart, Oregon; Mary Jo and Richard Lakin of Hanceville; Bill and Julie Peinhardt of Cheshire, Connecticut; Cindy and Robert Gonstad of Hanceville; Chris and Thomas Gropp of Rochester Hills, Michigan; and Amy and Bill Harley of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  His grandchildren are Ryan Peinhardt (Jasmine) of Raleigh, North Carolina; Matt Peinhardt of Seaside, Oregon; Beth Gonstad Stevens (Matthew) of Madison; Kate Gonstad Esteves (Frank) of Harvest; Katherine Peinhardt of Freiburg, Germany; Christopher Peinhardt of Savannah, Georgia; Max Harley of Greenville, South Carolina; and Grant Harley of Clemson, South Carolina.  Great-grandchildren are Zoey Wisener (Andrew) and Alder Stevens (Beth).

The visitation and service will be held Saturday, April 27, at Christ Lutheran Church: 424 Second Avenue SE in Cullman. Visitation will be from Noon-2 p.m. with service beginning at 2 p.m.  Interment will be immediately following at Hopewell Cemetery in Hanceville.  Arrangements are by Hanceville Funeral Home.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Christ Lutheran Church (PO Box 474, Cullman, AL 35056) or the Peinhardt Living History Farm (PO Box 1938, Cullman, AL 35056).