Friends, family remember Ed Moody
By Carole Robinson, Staff Writer; Derby Jones, Publisher
Last week, Williamson County lost another of the visionaries who was an integral part of creating the Williamson County of today. Ed Moody, World War II veteran, the owner of Moody’s Tires, community volunteer and local philanthropist died on Jan. 23 at the age of 92. According to those who knew him best, Moody was devoted to God, family and community and demonstrated his devotion daily in ways too numerous to count.
For generations, his has been a household name in Middle Tennessee whether he was called Ed Moody, Mr. Moody, Dad, Grandad, Uncle Deets, Uncle Ed, or Mr. Ed. He has left his footprint in the lives and on the hearts of all who knew him and many who do not and will not know him.
“In spiritual and physical ways, he raised the bar for all of us, especially me,” said his nephew, Jim Moody. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to help raise me. He left me some big shoes to fill.”
According to Jim, Moody taught him the importance of being honest in business and in life – he considered it important people be treated fairly.
“I think his biggest accomplishment was to be able to look in the mirror every morning and night knowing everyone he came in contact with he treated fairly,” Jim said. “He was a role model in the life he lived and for the people he touched.”
Moody was passionate about community service. He enthusiastically belonged to the Franklin Noon Rotary Club for two-thirds of his life and served as president 1958-59. And, given that he and had perfect attendance for 60 years at the group’s meetings, it comes as little surprise that he was named Rotarian of the Century. He was also known to attend Rotary Club meetings around the world when he traveled.
“Ed was a dear friend of mine,” said Roy Barker, former proprietor of Barker Insurance. “If you put up a contest for Best Citizen in the Country, he would win.”
Barker joined Rotary shortly after Moody.
“He was an all around good man – a good Christian,” he said. “He did a lot for Williamson County. We have lost one of our better citizens."
Moody was also a driving force in establishing the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin and Williamson County in the late 1980s, through which Moody touched several generations of children who may have taken different paths in life if they didn’t have the club. Through this legacy, some say, he will continue to touch young lives for generations to come.
“Ed Moody was an amazing man and an example to us all,” said Denise Carothers, executive director of the club. “From the late 1980s when the idea began to open a Boys & Girls Club in Franklin up until his death, never did his support of the club waver. He believed in Boys & Girls Clubs and he loved the kids with all his heart.”
Knowing Moody was in her corner meant the world to Carothers.
“An impromptu visit from him brightened the cloudiest of days,” she said. “He and I had a lot of great conversations as well as friendly competition. Each year I would try to outsell ‘Mr. Franklin’ in tickets to the annual Steak and Burger Dinner. You would think year after year I would learn that it was impossible.”
Carothers’ fondest memory is the year the annual Steak and Burger Dinner was a tribute to Moody.
“He was a humble man and pulling this off was no easy task,” she said. “Of course he fussed at me and told me others were more deserving. He said he was only doing what he was supposed to do – making life a little easier for the kids. I will never forget the smile on his face that night as he sat among our club members. His life should be a testament to us all.”
Jim Moody’s father died 28 years ago, but “Uncle Ed” stepped into the position of grandfather to Jim’s son Jimmy, a role Moody was proud to fill.
“He always went a step further,” said Jimmy, who now works at Moody’s Tires with his father. “When I was a kid in elementary and middle school he attended grandparents day with both my grandmothers.”
Moody was on several boards including the board of Belmont University where Jimmy attended college.
“I remember him telling me ‘Now that you’re at Belmont, people are asking how my grandson is doing. I say fine. We’ll leave it at that – you are my grandson,’” Jimmy said. “I hope I did him proud at Belmont.”
Until three months ago, Moody called Jimmy daily to inquire about the store and always added some words of wisdom about the way things were done in the “old days.”
“It was service first, taking good care of the customer,” Jimmy said. “We will always do it that way (at Moody Tires). It was his way – the right way.”
Tom Lawrence, the man with the radio voice, knew Moody “all my life” as a mentor, a friend and one of the select few – his father, Jim Hayes and Bob Sewell – to whom Lawrence turned for advice.
“I’ve known him as a child, a young man, a teenager, a young business man and an old business man,” said Lawrence, who grew up on Fifth Avenue South a few blocks from Moody’s Tire Store when it was located at Five Points in the building next to what is now Starbucks.
Moody was known for selling “anything that had tires” from farm equipment to lawn mowers, wheel barrows and beginning the day after Thanksgiving each year wagons and bicycles.
Lawrence recalled the wagons and bicycles he found under the Christmas tree. His father bought them “on time” paying $5 a month until they were paid off.
“It took about a year,” he added.
When Lawrence bought his first car, a 1962 Plymouth Valiant, it needed four tires.
“The tires were $100 – I didn’t have $100 so I put $10 down and paid $10 a month – no interest,” Lawrence said.
Moody provided many a Williamson County teen with a start on their credit history.
When customers purchased new tires and their old tires still had many miles left on them, Moody “put [the used tires] on somebody else’s car that needed tires but couldn’t afford new tires.”
While considering the purchase of radio station WAKM 950 AM Lawrence went to his advisors for input.
“I’ll never forget Mr. Moody saying ‘If you’re willing to work 80 hours a week, you will succeed.’ He was right.”
Every year, on Lawrence’s birthday Moody dropped by the radio station with a card and time to talk.
“My last birthday I went to see him,” he said. “He was very much admired. Like my father, Ed Moody wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He was a class person.”
Williamson County Trustee, Joey Davis grew up with two of Moody’s children and could tell stories all day about “Hero” – his nickname for a man he held in very high esteem.
Davis recalled when his family took their weekly Saturday evening trip to downtown Franklin for groceries and to visit friends on Main Street.
Davis and his brother, Richard would head off to look for Buster Brown and his dog Ruff in the shoes at the Kiddie Store and then on to Moody’s to look at the wagons, bikes and trains.
“We were in hog heaven looking in the window at Moody's,” he said.
Even when he was in the U.S. Navy, Davis bought tires from Moody’s.
“Mr. Ed and Mr. Tom Moody never asked how or when we were going to pay for the tires,” Davis said. “They were just glad to see us and welcomed us home always making us feel as if were visiting relatives. We always headed back to the navy duty station with a car full of kids, stuff Granny and Granddaddy sent for the kids, and four brand spanking new tires thanks to Moody's.”
Over the years Davis came to know Moody on another level.
“We were both involved together in many non-profits and local government committees,” he said. “Somewhere during that time I realized Mr. Ed was my true living hero. From then on I always called Mr. Moody "Hero" when I saw him. I shall miss Hero.”
Moody was on the board of the YMCA, the Franklin Special School District, Harpeth National Bank, First Tennessee Bank, and Baptist Hospital and the Williamson County Hospital before it became Williamson Medical Center. He was an active member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce and First Baptist Church. The Civitan Club named Moody Citizen of the year. Moody also served as president of the Franklin Noon Rotary club 1958-59. Given that he and had perfect attendance for 60 years, it’s no surprise that he was named Rotarian of the Century.
I was standing in the receiving line Friday afternoon to pay my respects for Mr. Ed Moody, a Franklin hero and pillar of the community who passed away at the age of 92. As I stood in line, conversations were taking place about Mr. Moody’s life and his influence on so many in this community. I mentioned to a fellow Rotarian who was standing next to me how unbelievable it was for Mr. Moody to have 60 years of perfect attendance. He rubbed his chin and said, “No not really. If you knew Mr. Moody it really wasn’t unbelievable to have perfect attendance. That was the way he was and if you knew that Ed believed in something he would support it 110 percent. He was diligent and that was the way he lived his life. You could count on him to be there and we even expected it. No it’s really not hard to believe at all.”
Obviously this Rotarian knew Mr. Moody much better than I did. However, I will say after thinking about that statement, and then listening to the stories and words said about Mr. Moody at his service, I can certainly agree with the Rotarian – it wasn’t unbelievable about his Rotary attendance. I think the same thing could be said for him about his church, faith and family. He was a man who was always there.
I was lucky enough to know Mr. Moody for six years. He was one of the few older Rotarians who extended a hand when I first joined the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. He was interested in my business and would always tell me what a great job we were doing with the local paper. He would stop by the office occasionally – especially in the first few years that I was involved. He would bring old photos for us to use or consider for a story. I especially enjoyed my time getting to know him while working on the Franklin Rodeo. He was an usher at the rodeo and showed up each night to work just like he had for 60 years. I learned so much about the rodeo and the club talking with him.
Pastor Rick White reflected on Mr. Moody during his service Saturday at the People’s Church. “He was the most contagious, influential, attractive, Christian man I have ever known. I have never heard anyone say an ill word about Ed Moody,” exclaimed White. “He lived a service life and he represented the people who built this great county.”
Mr. Ed Moody has touched so many people in Franklin and this community; I am honored to have known him, even for just a brief time. Pastor Rick White mentioned that one of the best things Ed Moody did was make sure you felt welcome and always extended his hand. Amen!
Thank you, Donna O’Neil
Donna wrote in her final Herald column last week this is not goodbye, but hello. However, I have mixed feelings on this. First, I am so happy that Donna will be able to work on her books while wearing her pajamas all day without the constant interruptions that the editor job brings. But I can honestly say that I am very sad to see her go, selfishly so. Donna stepped into the position of Managing Editor as only the second person to hold this title. You could say that there was pressure on her from the day she started. Donna brought a soft approach to the position with an outsider’s perspective. Donna formed relationships easily, and I enjoyed hearing from the public what a great job she was doing. She was easy to work with and would put up with my last-minute changes and ideas for the paper each week. She was reliable and hardworking and Donna took our news e-blast to a new level. More than anything, she was a friend and I will never forget her stepping up when I went through a tough time losing my father last year. Thank you Donna, for a job well done. And no, this isn’t goodbye; I will see you down at Handy Hardware.
Welcome Skip Anderson
I am pleased to welcome Skip Anderson to the managing editor position. While I am sad to see Donna go I am just as excited to be working with Skip, as he brings experience, passion, and energy to the position. I think our readers will be happy with my new hire and I look forward to new things to come. Please welcome Skip Anderson to the Williamson Herald!
Posted on: 1/31/2013