Tupelo- Terrill Kay Moffett, 73, died Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo, Mississippi. You may have known T. K. Moffett as an Attorney, a Major General, a Judge, a restaurant owner, a Professor, a City Prosecutor, a Deacon, a Music/Youth Minister, an Author, an Army West Point Rabble Rouser, or someone occasionally out of gas on the side of the road as he moved quickly from responsibility to responsibility, but his family just called him “Granddaddy.” Whether at the beach, on the boat, singing Elvis karaoke, running a half-marathon at a whim, or driving his truck in a parade, Granddaddy was a joy. From the humblest of beginnings, his hard work and determination led him on a great adventure for both the Kingdom and his country.
T. K. Moffett was born on a small farm near Becker, Mississippi on July 11, 1949. He was the youngest of nine children born to Elmer Carlos Moffett and Mary Ethel Meek Moffett. As a young man, he gave his life to Christ at Becker Baptist Church, where he would also help lead musical worship in his teenage years. He was an honor graduate from Amory High School and received nominations to all three U.S. Service Academies. T. K. chose the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree. After the Academy, he served as an Airborne Infantry Officer and Armor Officer, and graduated from both the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He would go on to earn a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Hawaii, and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Mississippi. He is also an honor graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth; and he completed United States Army War College as a Harvard Fellow at Harvard University.
Major General Moffett’s military career spanned 40 years in the Army, Army Reserve, and the Mississippi Army National Guard. He commanded at every level from Platoon Leader to Tank Battalion Commander to Division Commander, having served in the 155th Armored Brigade, the 25th Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 91st Division, and the 104th Division. He mobilized with the 155th Armored Brigade for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm and with the 91st Division for Operation Enduring Freedom.
T. K. was promoted to Brigadier General in 1999 and Major General in 2003. He was the Commanding General of the Troop Command Mississippi National Guard, the Deputy Commanding General of the 91st Division in California, and the Commanding General of the 104th Division in Vancouver, Washington. He retired from the military in 2007.
His awards and decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, the Mississippi Magnolia Medal, and the Mississippi Commendation Medal.
While pursuing a dual career with the military, T. K. practiced law for almost 45 years. He was the owner of Moffett Law Firm, PLLC, with offices in both Tupelo and Amory and he was admitted to practice law in both Mississippi and Alabama. He served as Tupelo City Prosecutor from 1989 through 1999. In 2015, Governor Phil Bryant appointed T. K. as Chancery Judge in Northeast Mississippi’s First Judicial District.
Major General Moffett was also the Founder and Owner of Moffett Leadership Institute and conducted leadership and ethics training with numerous military forums throughout the United States, Nigeria, and Rwanda. He also studied Municipal Policing at Harvard University. He defined a leader as “one who has a clear vision of the way things ought to be, articulates it, and, while setting the example in word and deed, inspires others to adopt the vision and work willingly toward its accomplishment.” He also believed leaders are servants.
Though all these accomplishments are incredible, they are not his greatest source of pride. His foremost joy was in his family. He was blessed for 51 years to be married to Rita Millsaps Moffett, who has supported him from their first military assignment at Scofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii to their final assignment in Vancouver, WA. While in Hawaii, they helped plant Mililani Baptist Church where the Gospel is still thriving today. Rita’s ministry of hospitality has been a particular blessing as they’ve welcomed countless people from the East Coast to the West Coast around their table and sought to serve both their soldiers and neighbors, especially during holiday meals, ice storms, and tornado warnings. Their partnership in kindness and generosity toward others is a great legacy.
As a father, T. K. could not be prouder of his daughter, Tara Leigh Moffett Dowden. His constant support and encouragement allowed her to flourish and to never doubt she was loved. He would often say to her, “If I picked you out of a catalog, I would not have changed a thing.” He would often say to others, “She is such a joy.” At Bay Springs, he helped make lasting memories for Tara and her friends as they spent time together skiing and tubing and trying to keep the houseboat from sinking because there was always room for one more!
As a father-in-law, none could have been more welcoming than T. K. was to his son-in-law, Dr. Landon Dowden. From the first visit with T. K. showing countless home videos of Tara Leigh to his purchasing of LSU football national championship tickets (which is hard for any Rebel to do), his love and support have been evident. He was always proud of his preacher son-in-law and his handwritten letters of encouragement will always be treasured.
His particular joy since 2004 has been to attend countless swim meets, baseball games, soccer matches, tennis matches, football games, and ballet recitals for his four grandchildren: Arabella, Adalaide, Adoniram, and Alastair Dowden. Times together at Disney World, the beach, and the lake with them have provided lasting memories and lots of laughter and nobody’s laugh was like Granddaddy’s. Special opportunities at Huntington Beach and Pearl Harbor because of his military service helped instill a love and gratitude for our country. But singing Karaoke in the living room, riding with Granddaddy in the Amory and Tupelo parades, or swimming all day in the pool while Grandaddy grilled great food are the daily moments of life together that will be missed.
He is survived by his wife Loreta Millsaps Moffett; daughter, Tara Leigh Moffett Dowden, and her husband, Dr. Landon Gene Dowden; four grandchildren, Arabella Leigh Dowden, Adalaide Mary Meek Dowden, Adoniram Landon Dowden, and Alastair Millsaps Moffett Dowden. T.K. also deeply loved and enjoyed his surviving sisters and brothers: Dorothy Lou Moffett Clemens (who helped strengthen his writing skills), James Edwin Moffett (who helped fuel his sense of adventure), Carroll Moffett (who helped care for him), and Mary Frances Moffett (his constant encourager and supporter). He also loved and is survived by numerous nieces, and nephews, as well as great-nieces and great-nephews. He took joy in hosting them for epic Fourth of July pool parties and serving homemade ice cream and was so proud of each of them.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his other siblings: Howard Donald Moffett, Jerry Kenneth Moffett, E. C. (Elmer Carlos) Moffett, Jr., and Walter Eldon Moffett.
A special thanks goes to Tupelo friends, military friends, professional colleagues who have been like family throughout the years, and Kendal Cantrell who has gone above and beyond for more than 20 years as a co-laborer both in legal and publishing matters but more importantly as a friend.
Visitation will be 5 until 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2023, at Pegues, Tupelo.
A funeral service seeking to honor T. K. and glorify Christ will be 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, 2023, at First Baptist Church of Tupelo with Dr. Landon Dowden officiating with Dr. Gayle Alexander providing words of comfort, and Bro. Randy Wood leading the special music. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Danny Moffett, Jonathan Clemens, Adrian Moffett, Reggie Jones, Collin Gates, Stephan Plum, Rusty Moffett, Kenny Moffett, Mitch Moffett, Joseph Michael Kitchens McCahill, and Jacob Michael Kitchens McCahill.
Dr. Chris Clemens, Emmanuel Cruz, Bob Bailey, Lonnie Carlton, Winston Fulmer, Jak Smith, Tim Moffett, Greg Clemens, Jeffrey Clemens, Ronnie Moffett, Matt Moffett, Dr. Danny Dickey, Dr. Charles W. Wikle, Dr. Rickey Hicks, Dr. Brad Crosswhite, Major General (Ret.) Daniel York, Major General (Ret.)Eldon Regua, Major General (Ret.) Janson Boyles, Major General (Ret.) Leon Collins, Major General (Ret.) James B Gaston, Major General (Ret.) Rodney Kabayashi, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Winston Fidiner, Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Joe Hester, Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Congressman Trent Kelly, The Honorable Bill Waller, Jr., and the former members of the 104th Division staff will serve as honorary pallbearers.
Expressions of sympathy and fond memories may be made at PeguesFuneralHome.com.