Main Street Mover

Gene Ward sits with his wife and longtime Grand Ole Opry member, Jeannie Seely. SUBMITTED

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were your born, raised, and where do you live now?

“I was born in White Pine. I am 87 years old. We live in Donelson.”

You are known by the name of “Mose.” Please tell us how this moniker came to be.

“Mose was an African-American man and our neighbor. I followed him around everywhere, and we were known as Big Mose and Little Mose.”

Family? Married? Children? I know you are married to the famed Jeannie Seely, Grammy award-winning member of the Grand Ole Opry.

“I am married to Jeannie Seely. I have one son, one stepson and two stepdaughters. We have two grandsons and raised them. Jeannie had a tree that needed to be cut down on an electrical line. I got a crew out there for her.”

Where did you graduate high school?

“I graduated from White Pine High School in 1952. I was on student council, senior class president, Beta Club vice president and a member of the debate team, captain of basketball team and lettered in basketball, football and baseball.”

College? Degree?

“I received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate in 1956. I paid my way through college by milking cows and waiting tables. I graduated sixth out of 106. I received my law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law (1956-59) and was member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and admitted to practice in Tennessee in August 1959.”

What was your first job? Career?

“It was on a farm when I was 10 years old, and I was paid 50 cents a day. On Sept. 1, 1959, I entered private practice of law in Morristown, appointed assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Public Service Commission on July 1, 1961 and appointed general counsel and served from January 1966 through May 1980. I worked hard every day. My first case was when a lady’s husband died. It was a workman’s compensation case. We won. I helped write the “Call before you dig” law in 1973. I served as administrative judge on about 400 commission cases. I resigned in May 1980 to run for the Public Service Commission.”

I know you are a former attorney for music industry artists such as Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizzell, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Jean Shepard and Del Wood. Correct? What are your favorite memories from this segment of your career? Are there any great anecdotes?

“I learned a lot about the business. What was so interesting was they were just ordinary people like everyone else. I do know that Earnest Tubb was very humble. If you want to know more information, you’ll have to wait for my book.”

In 1980, you were appointed staff attorney for Nashville Electric Service.

Yes. In March 1986, I was appointed general counsel of NES. I also represented NES in governmental affairs before the General Assembly of Tennessee and the U.S. Congress. In 2005, I became a member of the Lincoln Memorial University’s Professional Hall of Fame. I retired from NES in 2011 after serving 30 years as vice president and general counsel.”

Other career highlights and biggest career accomplishments?

“I tried a case in 1966 before the Supreme Court.”

I know you belong to a number of legal organizations and civic activities? Can you highlight a few?

“I am a lifetime member of the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce board of directors and so many others through the years. Other career highlights include my memberships to the Tennessee and Nashville bar associations, Tennessee Jaycees, Mason, Shriner, ASCAP writer, JCI senator, APPA, TVPPA and TEMPA utility associations.”

In 1976, the Tennessee General Assembly named the bridge at Interstate 81 mile marker 4 the Eugene “Mose” Ward Overpass. What a great honor. Did you ever think a bridge would be named after you?

“No, I never thought a bridge would be named after me.”

Who is your mentor? Why? Are you a mentee to anyone?

“Attorneys George Shuff, Ted Pappas and Harry Mittwede are my mentors. I was mentor to a number of law clerks who later became judges, representatives and outstanding law clerks.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“In 2018, I was hospitalized in intensive care for 34 days and in rehab for five months, during which time I was resuscitated three times. I tell everybody that “I went to the mountain top three times…the good Lord was not ready for me, and they already had too many lawyers in hell, so I got a pass.” That proves prayer works, and I want to thank everyone who prayed for me. I contribute my long life to the fact that I never drank or smoked and tried to take care of my health. In five years, I hope to still be above the ground.”

Pets?

“I have a cat named Corrie.”

Do you like to travel? If so, favorite place you’ve visited? Is there somewhere you’d love to visit when it’s safe?

“I do like to travel. I’ve been to Ireland and Canada and all over the U.S. I want to go to Monument Valley where John Wayne shot some of his movies. I’d like to travel more around the U.S.”

Some answers were edited.

Recommended for you