William Lewis “Bill” Moody IV died Monday, July 14, 2014 at his home in Galveston. He was 89.
Bill was born August 19, 1924 in Galveston. He was the youngest of three children born to William Lewis Moody III and Edna Willie Haden Moody. As a boy, Bill lived for seven years at Rancho Rio Bonita in the Texas hill country, where his lifelong love of ranching and horses was first nurtured. Later, Bill attended Galveston public schools and The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He excelled in track and field events, especially the half-mile. He also attended the colleges now known as John Tarleton University in Stephenville, Texas and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
During World War II, Bill volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps. After initially being passed over for service because of a minor physical limitation, Bill pleaded for his uncle Colonel Clark W. Thompson to intervene. With his Uncle Clark’s help, Bill joined the Marine Corps. He served as a seagoing Marine on the USS Birmingham (CL-62) for over three years in the Pacific.
As a child, Bill enjoyed spending time with his grandparents from both sides of the family. He was especially close to his grandfather, William Lewis Moody, Jr. After the war, Bill began his business career by working for his grandfather at American National Insurance Company in Galveston. Bill accepted his grandfather’s invitation to join the Board of Directors of American National in 1951, and he continued to serve as a member of American National’s Board until his death. Bill never missed an American National Board meeting during his sixty-three years of service. Bill also served on the University of Texas Medical Branch Development Board and on the Board of the Rosenberg Library, and he served as a trustee of The Moody Foundation until 1970.
Bill shared a love of ranching with his father and grandfather. After working at American National for a few years, Bill began managing his grandfather’s eleven ranches. With money he saved from working at American National, he also purchased his own ranch in west Texas, where he lived for sixteen years. He later purchased the Rancho Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas, comprised of over 50,000 acres extending thirty miles along the Rio Grande. Many of Bill’s friends and family have enjoyed his hospitality, along with great camaraderie and hunting, at the Rancho Rio Grande. The ranch also served as the set for numerous western films, including The Alamo and Lonesome Dove. During filming, Bill became friends with Hollywood stars, including John Wayne, worked on camera as an extra and as a stunt man, and taught several stars how to ride horses.
In addition to ranching, Bill loved flying. As a licensed pilot, Bill logged over 13,000 hours of flight time, including numerous trips from his ranches to Galveston to attend business meetings. Those hours also included flights to California for dates with a Hollywood actress named Darlene Hendricks, who would become his wife.
Bill and Darlene were set up on a blind date by Darlene’s agent, who knew Bill through John Wayne. Bill often said, “The day I met Darlene was the luckiest day of my life.” Bill and Darlene were married in 1961 and moved to Leona Ranch near Brackettville, Texas, where they lived for about five years until they moved to Galveston. Between them, Bill and Darlene have five children. Bill taught them all to ride horses on the family ranches.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and sisters Edna and Virginia Moody.
Bill is survived by his wife of fifty-two years, Darlene Hendricks Moody; his three daughters, Janice Moody, Linda Moody Sykes and Elizabeth Moody; his son, William Lewis Moody V; step-daughter Valerie Gnadt; his five grandchildren, Sally Sykes, Edwin M. Sykes IV, Elizabeth Sykes, Mary Sykes and James Holan, III; his four great-grandchildren; cousin Robert L. Moody, Sr. and his wife Ann; and numerous other relatives and good friends.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 10:00 A.M. at J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home. Interment will be private.
Pallbearers will be Gerald Sullivan, John L. Sullivan, Frank Marczak, Vandy Anderson, Aurelio Castillo, Frank Carmona, William Lewis Moody, V and Craig Janek. Honorary pallbearer Richard Ferdinandtsen.
Donations may be made to the Shriners Burn Hospital, 815 Market Street, Galveston, Texas 77550.
Bill’s was a life well lived, in Texas and beyond. He treasured his family and friends, who will miss him deeply.