Boddie was the son of Oliver Bennett and Josephine Rucker Boddie. He inherited a large estate when his 31-year-old father died of typhoid fever in 1859. He graduated from the University of Mississippi. He lost most of his fortune in the 1873 financial panic and moved to Birmingham with less than $1,000 to his name. He invested in real estate and doubled his assets within a matter of days on the way to realizing a fortune in property and securities that enabled him to live at ease. Among his notable development projects were the Caldwell Hotel and the Hewlett Block.
Boddie was known to be generous with his wealth, and was said to "have a brick or plank in every church in Birmingham." In 1886 he joined with John and Andrew Johnston, John T. Milner, and Edward Tutwiler to form the North Birmingham Land Company, developers of North Birmingham.
Boddie married the former Annie Henrietta Perryman on July 19, 1879 and had one child, John Bennett II in 1880. Annie died in 1882, and Boddie remarried, to the former Jennie Cleves of Memphis, Tennessee, in 1885. In around 1890 he contracted with T. H. Maddox & Son to construct a large, elaborate mansion on 19th Street South in Nabob Hill.
Boddie, like his father, contracted typhoid fever at a young age. He sought relief at Castilian Springs, Tennessee, where he died in October 1890. His funeral was held at First Methodist Church with Reverend C. B. Riddick presiding. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.
- Boddie, John Bennett III (1938) Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Rpt. 1959 by Southern Book Co., Baltimore, Maryland ISBN 9780806305592
- John Boddie at Findagrave.com