Walter Moody, 93, of Philadelphia, who partnered with a friend on a chain of small grocery stores and went on to found other businesses, died Saturday, April 26, of heart disease at Lankenau Hospital.
A graduate of Central High School, he grew up on Myrtle Street in North Philadelphia in the 1920s. At the time, the area was a melting pot for families of different nationalities.
Mr. Moody befriended Irwin Rosenzweig, whose father ran a dry goods store. The friendship endured; when Mr. Moody wanted to act on his belief that a man should own a business, he turned to Rosenzweig for help.
In the late 1960s, the two opened a number of small grocery stores called Lucky 7 in North Philadelphia. The idea was to offer coffee, soda, ice cream, candy and staple goods - similar to today's convenience stores. The stores have since closed.
But Mr. Moody didn't stop there. He opened a meat market in West Philadelphia; a fish market and a beer distributorship in North Philadelphia; a jazz club in Germantown; and taverns in North Philadelphia and Germantown. At one point, he owned or had an interest in 20 drinking establishments.
But the most popular of those was Moody's on the Pike, in West Oak Lane. It quickly became the "go to" place for soul food in the city.
"Countless people from all walks of life - both residents of and visitors to Philadelphia - would eat [there], have private parties, and enjoy Mr. Moody's company," his family wrote.
Mr. Moody's business ventures began in 1948 with the produce market he and his brother, Edward, ran on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. Though the Moody family was large, it didn't believe in accepting public assistance.
Mr. Moody developed a tough-guy image as a young man in order to survive, "but his wisdom, kindness, and thoughtfulness were always just below the surface of that 'gruff' exterior," his family said.
He was stationed at Fort Lee, Va., during World War II; there he met Arnita Hill. The two married and had nine children.
Mr. Moody worked for the Pennsylvania Division of Weights and Measures, an experience that led him to politics. He served as a Republican committeeman in North Philadelphia for many years.
Mr. Moody never retired, saying: "What would I do?"
In recent years, he worked in the law office of his son Adrian at 22d Street and Indiana Avenue, giving advice to those who needed it.
Surviving, in addition to his son, are sons, Marvin, Michael, and Gregory; daughters Jennifer and Kim; a brother; two sisters; 15 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.
His wife, three sons, and his longtime partner, Virginia Rowe, died earlier.
A viewing will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave., followed by an 11 a.m. memorial service, and a repast in the Fellowship Hall of the church. Interment is private.