ACADIANA, La. (KLFY)– 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 Wednesday at the age of 97.

Moody, an Iota native, graduated from Rayne High School and attended Auburn University. He served 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. 

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 after Moody 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 the founding partner in the CPA firm of Moody, Broussard, Poché & Guidry after he graduated from the university.

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 and Elizabeth M. Gielen. They are also grandparents to 49 grandchildren and have 101 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Moody was chairman of The Moody Company and of Louisiana State Newspapers, Inc., both located in Lafayette. He acquired the Rayne Acadian-Tribune in 1943 and the Church Point News in 1963.

He later launched the Crowley Post Herald, which joined with the Crowley Daily Signal, resulting in the Crowley Post-Signal in 1974. During the next three decades Moody’s newspaper group, Louisiana State Newspapers, added several other Louisiana newspapers, and today owns and publishes 22 newspapers.

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

“Truly the best,” Leo Honeycutt, who authored a biography of Edwards, wrote. “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. He then became 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.

Funeral services will be held Monday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Crowley.

Visitation will be Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home. A rosary will be recited at 6 p.m. Visitation will continue from 10 a.m. until services at 2 p.m.