Crowley businessman, philanthropist B.I. Moody III dies


Braxton “B.I.” Moody III, a longtime business and community leader in Crowley, Acadia Parish and Acadiana — and the namesake of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s college of business — died Sept. 13 at the age of 97.

Funeral services were held Sept. 18 in St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Crowley.

Moody was married to the former Thelma Hebert of Rayne for 70 years prior to her death in 2017. They are the parents of nine children — Rosalind M. Robertson, Braxton I. Moody IV, Valerie M. Hensgens, Beverly M. Lagroue, Kathy M. Hundley, Kevin Moody, Charlotte M. Leonards, Stephen Michael Moody, Elizabeth M. Gielen — grandparents to 49 grandchildren and have 101 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Moody, a native of Iota, graduated from Rayne High School and attended Auburn University. His college career was interrupted by service in the United States Navy during World War II, upon returning from the war, Moody entered the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then-SLI — often hitchhiking from Rayne to Lafayette — where he earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting.

After graduation, Moody was the founding partner in the CPA firm of Moody, Broussard, Poché & Guidry.

The university, in a statement released Thursday, mourns the death of Moody, a 1949 graduate and “a longtime friend of the university.” The university renamed its business college in his honor in 2002 in recognition of his success and service to the business industry of Acadiana. “Throughout his distinguished and varied career, Mr. Moody modeled the characteristics the University strives to instill in its graduates — hard work, persistence and integrity. We offer our condolences to the Moody family and join them in celebrating the life of this iconic figure in Acadiana’s business community,” the statement read.

Moody was chairman of The Moody Company and of Louisiana State Newspapers, Inc., both located in Lafayette. He acquired the Rayne Acadian-Tribune and Church Point News in 1963. He later launched the Crowley Post Herald, which eventually merged with the competing Crowley Daily Signal, resulting in the Crowley Post-Signal in 1974. During the next three decades Moody’s newspaper group, Louisiana State Newspapers, acquired several other newspapers around Louisiana and today owns and publishes 22 newspapers.

Moody was a longtime friend of four-time Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards and was among a group in 2003 that sought to have Edwards’ 10-year federal prison sentence reduced.

“Truly the best,” wrote Leo Honeycutt, who authored a biography of Edwards. “B.I. Moody and his wife, Te, quietly helped a lot of people. He personified both gentleman and Christian with his life. He was the top influencer to convince me to write the Edwin Edwards biography to be as much a biography of the state of Louisiana as of the man. It was a lot more work, but he was right.”

Moody also served as president and chief executive officer of Chart House, Inc., in Lafayette and chairman of the board for First National Bank of Lafayette. His services on boards include Rayne State Bank & Trust Company, First National Bank of Crowley, Acadia Savings and Loan Administration, First Commerce of New Orleans, Coastal Chemical Company of Abbeville, Lastarmco Inc. of Abbeville, Riviana Foods Inc. of Houston, Celeron Oil Company, Inc., of Lafayette and Quantum Restaurants, Inc., of New York. He was later president and CEO of Chart House, a public company operating Burger King hamburger restaurants in Louisiana, Illinois, California, Virginia, and Texas, as well as Chart House steak restaurants in California; Cork & Cleaver steak restaurants in Colorado and Luther’s Bar-B-Q in Texas.

Moody was into horse racing and was at one time a co-owner of Evangeline Downs when it was in Carencro. He and co-owner William Trotter moved the track to St. Landry Parish after voters approved adding slot machines there. They eventually sold it to an Iowa-based gaming company.