Heritage, 2011, Volume 4 Page: 14
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the Moodys would again lose control of American National
Insurance Company, but this speculation was proven wrong.
After Mary's death, Robert officially stepped into a leadership
role that he had de facto held for a decade or more, and the
family retained control of the nationally renowned company.
The situation could have been very different if Robert had not
become the brightest pupil of his grandfather's lessons.
Robert was the younger son of Mary's brother, Shearn,
who had died young in 1936. Robert grew up with his older
brother, Shearn, Jr. and their mother Frances in Galveston's
Cedar Lawn neighborhood. In 1948 he entered Valley Forge
Military Academy in Pennsylvania where he graduated as the
highest-ranking cadet in his class and as captain of the regi-
mental staff. A handsome, wiry kid and good athlete, Robert
was a member of the wrestling team in high school and ex-
celled in both team and individual sports. After Valley Forge,
Robert attended the University of Houston for a year before
entering the U.S. Army. His willingness to serve as an enlist-
ed man did not surprise his friends. As with his grandfather,
Robert's refusal to call attention to himself and rest on his
laurels were attributes that he would forever maintain.
The impact of the Moody family on Galveston has been
immense, and much of their success in most recent decades
can be linked to Robert L. Moody. He has been the spark be-
hind the growth of American National Insurance Company,
and in 1956, he also founded National Western Life Insur-
ance Company (of Austin), both of which are now multibil-
lion-dollar enterprises. His Moody National Bank now has 21
Left: 1953 photo of Senior Cadet Robert L. Moody at Valley Forge Military
School. Original is in color. Above: Robert and Ann Moody and seven of their
eight children on vacation at Lake Tahoe in 1969.
branches, while the family's hotel chain has expanded to 13
trophy properties, including the historic Menger Hotel in San
Antonio. But it's not all business for Robert, whose proudest
philanthropic accomplishments have involved development
of the Transitional Learning Center for the brain injured and
the $600 million Moody Gardens project.
People may often wonder how the Moodys have main-
tained their wealth for so long, when many other rich fami-
lies have lost their affluence in just two or three generations.
Some might suggest that every generation of Moodys has
produced heirs who were actively involved in the family's
business holdings and who were not inclined to merely cash
dividend checks, cut ribbons, and attend galas. More likely,
the Moody family's enduring success seems to be founded
upon a shared, dedicated work ethic coupled with shrewd
business acumen and cautious ambition. However, those
close to the Moodys say that there have been those in the
family who, like the dynasty's founder, Colonel William L.
Moody, were bestowed with an innate vision enabling them
to see the "big picture"-and this gift has served them well
for more than 150 years. *
E. Douglas McLeod is a Galveston attorney who was "born on
the island. "
14 TEXASHERITAGE I Volume 4 2011
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 4, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254223/m1/14/: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.