Willard James Moody Sr.

Published 3:32 pm Monday, April 15, 2019

PORTSMOUTH – Willard James Moody Sr., 94, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. He was born on June 16, 1924 in Franklin to the late Willie and Mary Moody; and was a proud U.S. Army veteran having served in Europe during WWII. 

After his service he attended the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary (now Old Dominion University). After graduation he attended the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and began practicing law in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1952. He continued to practice and lead the law firm that is now known as The Moody Law Firm until the time of his death. He served with distinction in his profession as a lawyer and a legislator. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and served there from 1956 to 1967 and the Virginia Senate from 1968 until 1984. He never lost an election. After leaving the legislature, he continued his career of trying railroad cases on behalf of injured railroad workers. He was named as Designated Legal Counsel by nearly every rail union in America and spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of railroad workers. He served as the Commissioner in Chancery and Commissioner of Accounts for the Circuit Court for the City of Portsmouth and was member of the Portsmouth and Norfolk Bar Associations. He was a member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (president in 1973), the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the Inner Circle of Advocates and the Academy of Railway Labor attorneys. He is the only Virginia attorney to have been inducted into the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame; being inducted in April 2014. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in American Politics and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest. 

In addition to his family the other great passion in his life was his creation of the Railroad Museum of Virginia located in Portsmouth. He was a member and Sunday school teacher at the former Park View Baptist Church.

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In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by five brothers and five sisters. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 71 years, Betty Covert Moody; a daughter, Sharon Edwards and her husband Stephen; two sons, Willard “Will” Moody Jr. and his wife Courtney and Paul Moody and his wife Sarah; three sisters, Bertha Foster, Sue Bell and Mary Ellen Romanczyk; six grandchildren; six great grandchildren; and a host of extended family and friends.

A funeral service was held April 1 at Green Acres Presbyterian Church with the Reve. Elizabeth Hilkerbaumer. Burial followed in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Railroad Museum of Portsmouth.

Condolences may be made to the family online at www.SturtevantFuneralHome.com.