Willard James Moody, Sr., a well-regarded attorney and former state legislator who served as a longtime Designated Legal Counsel (DLC) for the United Transportation Union (UTU) and advocated on behalf of railroad workers in the court of law throughout his life, passed away March 27. He was 94.
“Willard devoted his professional life to securing and strengthening the FELA (and) seeking justice for thousands of injured railroad workers over a career that spanned seven decades,” said James A. Stem, retired SMART Transportation Division/UTU national legislative director and executive director of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys. “We all stand on his shoulders.”
Born June 16, 1924, Moody was a U.S. Army veteran and served in World War II in Europe. Upon his return home, he attended college, then law school, before founding what is now the Moody Law Firm in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Moody turned his attention to politics after establishing his practice and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, serving there from 1956 to 1967, then in the Virginia Senate from 1968 until 1984. He never lost an election.
In addition to serving as a DLC, Moody donated to the UTU’s political action committee and later founded the Railroad Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth. His legal career culminated with his induction into the National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame in April 2014.
Moody is survived by his wife of 71 years, Betty Covert Moody; daughter, Sharon Edwards, and her husband, Stephen; two sons, Willard “Will” Moody, Jr., who continues his father’s legacy as a current SMART TD DLC, 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.
Visitation will be 3 to 5:30 p.m. March 31 at Sturtevant Funeral Home, Portsmouth Boulevard Chapel, 5201 Portsmouth Blvd., Portsmouth, VA 23701. A funeral service will be 11 a.m. Monday, April 1, 2019, at Green Acres Presbyterian Church, 3135 Hanley Ave., Portsmouth, VA 23703, by the Rev. Elizabeth Hilkerbaumer. Burial will follow in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. Following the burial, a reception will take place at the home of Will and Courtney Moody, 4201 Manchester Road, Portsmouth, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Railroad Museum of Virginia.