The announcement that Jack Moseley will depart from the top offices of USF&G Corp. has sent shock waves across Baltimore, where the hard-driven executive had established himself over nearly three decades as one of the region's most powerful behind-the-scenes players.
His leadership in a wide variety of civic and business groups, as well as his impressive political connections, placed Moseley near the center of the select circle of leaders whose influence is seen in nearly every important project in the city.
Moseley, 59, who declined to be interviewed yesterday, may continue as a leader of many of those groups, but his influence is bound to decline when he sheds the chairmanship of USF&G. The company has long been a major and consistent corporate contributor to community activities.
"Jack is one of the giants of the community . . . He was -- is -- the guy to go and see," said Robert Keller, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, an influential group that promotes Baltimore and the surrounding region.
Donald Hutchinson, president of Maryland Economic Growth Associates, a quasi-public economic development group, said, "Jack Moseley is one of a half dozen business leaders in the town who have been and are critical to its success."
People who know the white-haired, ex-cigar smoker describe him as decisive and no-nonsense, an intense man who naturally commands attention and respect from others. Less complimentary adjectives include arrogant and power-hungry.
"He wasn't a team player. If he wasn't in the lead, he wouldn't play," said one associate, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Moseley began his climb up USF&G's corporate ladder in 1953, after graduating with a mathematics and physics degree from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. He became a trainee at USF&G's branch office in his hometown, Birmingham, Ala., and three years later landed at the Baltimore headquarters in a position called assistant to actuary.
By 1969 he was vice president-senior actuary and rose through a number of jobs becoming, in 1971, executive vice president. He took over the presidency in 1978 and the chairmanship in 1980. He was named both chairman and president in 1981.
His salary and bonus was nearly $1.18 million last year, according to company documents.
Typical of his activities outside the company was his early support for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, helping to organize a major fund-raising campaign in the late 1970s.
"That was the beginning of a major effort to save the symphony. From a financial standpoint, it had been on very shaky ground," said former PHH Corp. chairman Jerome Geckle, a hunting and golfing partner of Moseley's.
The recipient of a fund-raising visit from Moseley during the symphony drive, Geckle said, "He's a good personal arm-twister.
"He's very decisive and forceful, but very objective. Totally a no-nonsense kind of guy," Geckle said.
Moseley was an early and influential force in the founding of MEGA, the development group he now chairs.
"He's got a presence about him that lets people know that he's going to be a significant player in whatever he involves himself in," said Hutchinson, of MEGA.
Moseley's current civic positions include chairman of the Baltimore Convention Bureau Inc., chairman of the mayor's USS Baltimore Committee, and vice chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. He is a trustee of the Maryland Historical Society and a member of the executive committee of the symphony's board.
He also sits on the board of directors of the Signet Banking Corp., C&P Telephone Co. of Maryland, and UNC Inc. He was one of a handful of local business leaders listed in a recent Business Week bonus issue, "1990 Corporate Elite."
Though he's worked closely with Democratic administrations on the city and state level, Moseley has been most active in the Republican Party and is believed to have been the subject of unsuccessful efforts to recruit him as a candidate, according to some observers.
Dick Bennett, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican party, said he doesn't know of any attempts to put Moseley on a ballot, but said the businessman has been highly active in fund-raising and promotion of GOP candidates.
"He's been a great inspiration to all of us. I don't know of any business leader that has been more willing to promote leadership in Republicans in Maryland," Bennett said.