Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 20

Claude Carr Cody Begins Career at Southwestern, January 20, 1879

On January 20, 1879 Claude C. Cody began his long career at Southwestern University.  He served for decades, eventually becoming the “Grand Old Man” of Southwestern.  He was beloved teacher of mathematics and also held a variety of administrative posts. 

Cody was born in Covington, Georgia, in 1854.  He received the B. A. and A. M. from Emory and then came to Georgetown where he was to spend the rest of his life.  In 1879 Southwestern was still a fledgling institution.  It had great ambitions to become the central university for Texas Methodists according to the vision of Francis Asbury Mood, but its greatness lay in the future.  

Cody had to wear many hats.  At different times he managed the dormitories, was treasurer, librarian, secretary of the faculty, and eventually SU’s first dean.  Twice he served as acting president.  During the “removal controversy” of 1910-1911, he headed the faction that fought to keep Southwestern in Georgetown over the wishes of President Robert S. Hyer who wanted to relocate the university of Dallas.  Hyer eventually resigned and went to Dallas to found SMU.  

Cody is also known as an historian.  His Life and Labors of Francis Asbury Mood (1886)was informed by his personal relationship with Mood.  It remains a necessary reference on every Texas Methodist historian’s bookshelf.  Much later he was instrumental in organizing the Texas Methodist Historical Association.  That organization did not last very long, but it published 7 issues of the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly with Cody as one of the editors.  Those 7 issues are also an indispensable part of the Texas Methodist historian’s reference library.

Cody died in 1923 was buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Georgetown.  A memorial fund was initiated which eventually led to the construction of Cody Memorial Library on campus.  

On a personal note, both of my grandparents were students of Cody, my grandmother attended during the tumultuous year of 1910-1911.  Because of that relationship, my grandparents were the patients of Claude C. Cody, Jr., (1886-1959) an otolaryngologist who practiced in Houston and was one of the founders of the Houston Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital.  He was an officer in local, state, and national medical societies.

Cody, Jr., was also a trustee of Southwestern from 1934 to 1959.  Those were perilous years for SU’s financial health, and Cody was one of the trustees who managed to save the university. 


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