By Jackie Clift
Robert C. Lanier, also known as Bobby Lanier, was born on August 18, 1929, at home in Collierville. His parents were Charles Howard Lanier and Lola Cox Lanier. He grew up on his father’s dairy farm, which was located on Winchester Road near where Windyke Country Club is presently located. Bobby, as he was called, attended school in Germantown and graduated from Mable C. Williams High School where he played football and basketball.
He was captain of the 1947 football team and a member of the 1946-1947 basketball team, which were District Champions. He was also on the track team. Bobby was chosen as Mr. Germantown and the most handsome in his class. He also met his future wife, Pat Moriarity, while he was in high school. She was the Homecoming Queen during their senior year when he was captain of the football team. They were married for 51 years and had one son, Robert Cox Lanier, II. Pat taught English in the Germantown school system for over 20 years. Both his wife and son pre-deceased Bobby.
Bobby went to work for MLGW where he started his lifelong career as a public servant. After a 28-year career there, he became the executive assistant to three mayors of Shelby County and served as the chief aide and advisor to former county mayors Bill Morris, Jim Rout, and A C Wharton.
Mr. Lanier was one of the founders and vice-chairman of the board of the Bank of Germantown. He also served as advisor director of Trust Mark National Bank and as director of Neshoba Bank. He also attended Germantown Presbyterian Church and ushered there.
Bobby served as Volunteer Fire Chief for the Germantown Fire Department for 20 years. He was also Chairman of the Civic Club which raised money for the construction of the Pickering Center. He served as an alderman for Germantown, and as President and Executive Director of the Germantown Charity Horse Show. Bobby served as Mid-South Fair President for two years and as an officer for the Germantown Festival, as well as President of the Poplar Pike Association and Chairman of the Germantown High School Scholarship Committee.
Bobby Lanier won many awards during his lifetime for public service to his hometown and the surrounding area. Some of them include Civic Club Man of the Year in 1963, Forest Hill Jaycees Man of the Year in 1976, the Lion’s Club Citizen of the Year in 2005, the Rotary Club Citizen of the Year in 2007, a fire truck named in his honor by Shelby County, a farm park named in his honor in Germantown, and a bridge over the Wolf River on Germantown Parkway named the Bobby Lanier Bridge by the state of Tennessee.
Bobby Lanier lived within a nine-mile radius of Germantown throughout his entire life. He remembered the Germantown of his youth as a town populated by about 400 people and with a train and a depot. As he grew older, he worked as a public servant for MLGW and solved problems for the people in Germantown and Shelby County. He saw himself as a “problem solver” and believed that all problems could be worked out if everyone tried.