At the noon hour on a warm spring day, a gentle breeze stirred as the Palm Beach Atlantic University community received its first look at a new bronze statue of founding President Dr. Jess Moody.
|Dr. Jess Moody and his wife, Doris, sit at the base of the statue dedicated to Dr. Moody that overlooks the Rinker Green.|
|View Video of the Statue Unveiling|
The 7-foot-tall bronze likeness of Dr. Moody that now overlooks the Rinker Green depicts him with a Bible in his hand and facing into a breeze that represents the winds of the Holy Spirit that guided him to found the college in 1968.
On Tuesday, officially Jess Moody Day at Palm Beach Atlantic, the statue was unveiled during a ceremony following Founders Day chapel.
Artist Zenos Frudakis, who also has created a statue of John D. MacArthur for the city of Palm Beach Gardens, sculpted the figure from the same clay reserves used for the Lincoln Memorial.
Dr. Moody’s wife, Doris, removed the statue’s cloth covering as the crowd expressed its approval and erupted in applause.
Afterward, Dr. Moody chose to dispense with his prepared remarks and instead gave others the credit for making the dream a reality.
"God laid it on my heart, and God alone could found this college," said Dr. Moody, surrounded by a large gathering of family members, friends, alumni, students, faculty and staff.
"I had the gift, I guess, of envisioning something and starting it. But I’m not the great finisher."
He thanked Dr. Donald Warren, the University’s founding chairman, and his wife Bebe for raising money and helping the college to grow. He also thanked the presidents who succeeded him, the school’s donors and the congregation of First Baptist Church, where he served 15 years as pastor.
Among the special guests in attendance were Prestonwood Baptist Church pastor Dr. Jack Graham, who served as pastor of First Baptist Church from 1981 to 1989, and former PBA President Dr. David Clark.
"Palm Beach Atlantic University is a wonderful place. It’s an improbable school really. It could not have happened but for a vision," Dr. Clark told the audience prior to the unveiling. "Paul talks about being true to the vision he was given. Jess, you were true to the vision," he said.
Others who attended included the Rev. O.D. Hall Jr., the former minister of music at First Baptist; the Rev. Bill Derryberry, who recruited the college’s first class of 85 students; and Dr. Chris Whaley '76, who attended PBA during Dr. Moody’s presidency.
Dr. Whaley, now senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Longwood in central Florida, said Dr. Moody was responsible for bringing him to the Lord. "He inspired me and I can’t thank him enough," Dr. Whaley said.
"He loved everybody the same," he said. “He never shook hands. He always hugged."
Dr. Whaley’s wife, Verna, who also graduated from PBA in 1976, also recalled Dr. Moody’s interactions with students.
"He never met a stranger, and he was a great encourager," she said.
Another former student, Dr. William Alexander '74, was among the first students to attend PBA. Back then, it was called “Make Do U.,” he said.
"Dr. Moody was a teacher, preacher, president, cafeteria worker," said Dr. Alexander, now pastor of St. Stephens United Church of Christ in Philadelphia, Pa., and a chaplain for a retirement community. "He did everything."