HENRY WIENCEK AND E. DOUGLAS MC LEOD
Taken in the Foyer of the Moody Mansion
Galveston, Texas started its life as a city with a lot of families who would become rich as a result of the many businesses a very prolific and active seaport would sustain.
One of those families, the family of Colonel William Lewis Moody, his wife and children, came to Texas in the late 1850s and settled in Galveston a few years later.
Col. Moody and his son, W.L. Moody, Jr., built an empire whose foundation was cotton compressing, wharf ownership, and banking. At the turn of the century, a life insurance company was added that would sell small weekly-premium insurance policies to the working class. It grew into a huge company, the American National Insurance Co., and it still maintains its home office in Galveston.
When W.L. Moody, Jr. died in 1954 the value of the estate was nearly one-half billion dollars. The majority of those assets became the corpus of a charitable foundation whose beneficiary is listed as "the people of Texas."
Today the family's patriarch is W.L. Moody, Jr.'s grandson, Robert L. Moody, Sr.
The home of W.L. Moody, Jr. is one of the mansion museums on the Island, and like the others, it attracts thousands of visitors every year. The home survived the 1900 storm.
The Moody family commissioned author Henry Wiencek to write their story and then to describe in detail the Moody home museum and its furnishings.
E. Douglas McLeod, an attorney and a senior official of the Moody Foundation, is the brother-in-law of Robert Moody. A former state legislator, city councilman, school board trustee and Rotary Club president, McLeod has been associated with the Moody family since he served as a lifeguard at one of their Island hotels when he was a teenager. That is an association that has now passed fifty years.
Robert Moody contributed a foreword to the book where he tells the stories of learning about business from his grandfather. Douglas McLeod provides an epilogue that further explains the Moodys, their traditions and current activities. These are, in my mind, very important additions to Mr. Wiencek's work.
Because I was a precocious child, I made it a point to meet W.L. Moody, Jr., at his home when I was about ten years old. Those visits, I think, helped me to know about him and his family, a knowledge that was and remains primarily unknown by the public. You see, the Moodys are traditionally a private family.
So I believe I can accurately assure those who are interested, that the contributors to The Moodys of Galveston & Their Mansion provide readers good insight.
The great irony, however, is that the publisher, Texas A&M University Press, had the book printed in China by Everbest Printing Co., Ltd.
The Moodys of Galveston & Their Mansion by Henry Wiencek. Texas A&M University Press.
108 pages: Publishers Price: $19.95