GALVESTON, Texas — Robert L. Moody, a philanthropist and the namesake of Austin's Moody Center, has died at age 88.
Moody was a businessman who was part of the influential Moody family of Galveston. Moody's grandparents, W.L. Moody Jr. and Libbie Shearn Moody, founded the Moody Foundation in 1942, the largest philanthropic foundation in Texas. He took charge of multiple family businesses, including Moody Bank as the chairman of the Board of Directors and the Moody Foundation, where he was the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Moody helped fund many UT projects through the Moody Foundation, including committing $50 million to establish the Moody College of Communication, $20 million towards the revamp of the exterior of the Blanton Museum of Art and $130 million in grant money towards the brand new Moody Center, a basketball arena and events center. It was the largest gift to date from a foundation in UT's long history. The grant money for the Blanton redesign was the largest gift given in support of Austin's outdoor spaces.
“Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for the tremendous philanthropic support of Bobby Moody and the lasting impact the Moody Foundation’s contributions will have on UT, our students, our campus, and our city,” said UT President Jay Hartzell. “The unwavering commitment to education, research and a thriving community will continue to inspire and empower generations of Longhorns. The fabric of Austin will be forever strengthened by their generosity that fuels the gathering places where we celebrate music, art and athletic achievements.”
Throughout its almost 100-year history, the Moody Foundation has awarded over $204 million to UT to establish and support colleges, centers, institutes, programs and venues. In that time, the foundation has awarded more than $1.7 billion overall in grants throughout all of Texas.
The foundation also offers scholarships to high school seniors to help them pursue undergraduate degrees in Texas.
Moody was married to Ann McLeod Moody, who died in 2022. The two had a blended family of eight children between them.
“My father was an avid learner, always reading the news or meeting with experts in various fields to expand his horizons,” said Ross Moody, Robert's son, who began serving as a Moody Foundation trustee in 1986. “This trait was passed down from his grandfather, William Lewis Moody Jr., who strongly believed in the importance of education. He studied law at UT in 1886 and in addition to founding companies in the banking and insurance space, acquired the Galveston Daily News, the oldest newspaper in Texas. Since that time, the Moody family has had University of Texas graduates in every generation, and we are incredibly proud of our ongoing partnership with one of the greatest institutions in the state.”