Robert L. Stoddard was born December 10, 1918, in Laurens County, South Carolina, to parents Selena Roberts and Lander Boyd. He attended Laurens County public schools and the Textile Institute (now Spartanburg Methodist College). Stoddard graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Agronomy in 1941. While at Clemson, he was elected into Blue Key and Phi Kappa Phi honorary fraternities, as well as the Order of Scabbard and Blade. He was named to Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities and won the Trustees Medal, awarded to the best debater.
After graduating from Clemson, Stoddard served as Lieutenant Commander on the USS Guam in the South Pacific. After World War II, he entered the University of South Carolina School of Law. Upon graduation in 1947, he moved to Spartanburg, where he and Charles C. Moore formed Moore & Stoddard. In 1975, his son, Wesley A. Stoddard, joined the firm. Later Stoddard’s son-in-law, George H. Wood, joined the firm, which became known as Moore, Stoddard, Stoddard & Wood.
Stoddard was a member of the board of trustees of Clemson University from 1956 to 1962. In 1962, he was elected Mayor of Spartanburg, serving until 1973. While mayor, Stoddard made economic development a priority. During his tenure, corporations from Germany, Switzerland, Britain and Japan located offices and manufacturing facilities in Spartanburg County, and Spartanburg received international recognition for its foreign investments. The city was awarded the Model City designation, and urban renewal was given priority, as was the development of a beautification plan. He reformed the police department into a public safety department, under which officers received training as firefighters as well as in law enforcement. As a member of Gov. West’s Committee on Law Enforcement, he pushed for and was instrumental in the creation of the State Police Academy in 1968.
Stoddard was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Spartanburg, serving as an Elder and Deacon. He served as president of the Kiwanis Club, Spartanburg County Municipal Association, South Carolina Municipal Association and Spartanburg County Bar Association. He was active in the South Carolina Bar, serving as a member of the House of Delegates for many years.
He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Clemson University and in 2001 was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by former South Carolina Gov. James H. Hodges.
Robert L. Stoddard died on March 11, 2006. Predeceased by his wife, Betty Boyd Stoddard, he is survived by six children, Wesley A. Stoddard, Robert L. Stoddard Jr., Allen M. Stoddard, Francis Loudon, Ann Stoddard and Louise Elder, and nine grandchildren.