Joe Moody – Professor Emeritus of Biology

By Alex Kirkpatrick ‘18

Joe Moody, professor emeritus of biology, worked at Simpson from 1976 to 2002, and he never missed a single day of class in those 26 years.

Moody, a well-respected member of the Indianola community, is known for his teaching, but he also is a proud veteran.

He served during the Vietnam War as a commander of a 105mm howitzer battery.

He was on active duty from 1965-66, and then in the Army Reserves for five more years.

“I’m proud of my service because I believe in what this country stands for,” Moody said.

In the military, he was a tactical officer in an Officer Candidate School, located in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which is designed to train and mentor future officers.

His observation that teaching is synonymous with mentorship, however, began at New Mexico Military Institute. He was mentored by two professors who had worked on the Manhattan Project under theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The Manhattan Project produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II.

It was in military school where Moody learned discipline:  Wake up at 5:30 every morning; be punctual; dress in uniform; be organized, etc.

“They really wanted you to learn,” he said.

Because his mentors were meticulous in their teaching, he wanted to return the favor when he became a teacher..

“I wanted people to learn,” he said. “When people learn, their lives will be better off.”

Moody earned his bachelor’s degree in microbiology at the University of Nebraska and his Ph.D. in immunology at Montana State University.

He says teaching is personal.

“If I don’t know you as a person,” Moody said,” I wasn’t doing my job as a teacher.”

In the military, he learned about the 246 people in his battery; in the classroom, he learned about the students, and then some.

His connection with students extends beyond retirement.

Moody, now 74, recently broke his leg riding a Segway on the sand dunes in Texas.

Due to health complications, he visits many doctors, some of whom were former students.

While visiting a gastroenterologist, a former student walked in with a garden hose.

“He told me, ‘Remember that first question on the second immunology test? I’m going to get even with you,’” Moody recalls.

Reflecting back on his career, Moody says his best advice is to “never shoot for mediocrity because you’ll hit it every time.”

Faith is an integral part of his life, and he says fighting for a belief will lead to a plentiful life.

Since retiring, Moody has kept himself busy.

He’s on the executive board of the local American Legion, shoots competitively, collects rifles, is active in the First United Methodist church and spends his winters on South Padre Island in Texas.

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