Moseley played key roles in city's civic, political life

November 08, 1990|By Ted Shelsby Abby Karp of The Sun's Features staff contributed to this article.

When Jack Moseley first rode into town nearly 35 years ago, still with a trace of his Alabama accent, hardly anybody noticed.

But the cigar-chomping, sometimes gruff chief executive of USF&G Corp. -- who made $1.2 million in salary and bonuses in 1989 -- was to become a major participant in the post-1960s revitalization that transformed Baltimore.

"No other city in the country appeals to me nearly as much as Baltimore," Mr. Moseley said in a Forbes magazine article in 1983.

They were not empty words for a man who was active in the city's civic and political life for more than three decades.

"Jack was one of Baltimore's most visionary civic leaders, and he always put his dollar where his mouth was," said Donald Moyer, a former head of the Greater Baltimore Committee's economic development council.

That showed in the late 1960s, when the fast-growing company needed a new corporate headquarters. The company picked a site at Light and Pratt streets and erected a 35-story building that became the first construction in Baltimore's Inner Harbor development and the cornerstone of one of the world's most successful inner-city redevelopment efforts.

When Edward Bennett Williams put the Orioles on the market a few years back, Jack Moseley came up with a contingency plan -- never executed -- for the insurance company to buy the club if that became necessary to keep it in Baltimore.

He was one of a group of about dozen business leaders who joined forces to try to acquire the Colts from Robert Irsay in an unsuccessful effort to keep the team from leaving Baltimore.

Friends describe Mr. Moseley as a private man of modest tastes who has a few friends over every New Year to share a home-cooked meal of black-eyed peas and other Southern dishes.

Born in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Moseley came to Baltimore in 1956 as part of an uninterrupted 37-year career with USF&G. He graduated from Auburn University in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics. He married the former Patsy Blake that year and began to work in the insurance company's Birmingham branch as a casualty trainee.

Mr. Moseley rose to vice president in 1971, president in 1978 and chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1980.

He retains traces of a Southern accent and can play the roles of Southern gentleman and good old country boy, friends say. But he has become a bigger booster of Baltimore than many who grew up here.

During his years as chief executive officer, Mr. Moseley has set an example of corporate generousity. When the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra needed financial help a few years back, for example, Mr. Moseley and USF&G came forward again with the biggest check.

"It was the largest corporate contribution to any symphony in the country," said John Gidwitz, executive director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Moseley also felt that it was important for both the city and the state to have strong economic-development programs to assist expanding businesses and attract new industry.

Mr. Moyer, now national economic-development director for KPMK Peat Marwick, remembers that when Maryland was beginning to reach out to other parts of the world to lure new industry, it didn't have the money to match the flashy promotion and entertainment efforts of other states.

Mr. Moseley went out into the business community and came up the money to help finance the programs, Mr. Moyer said.

Mr. Moseley was a founder of Maryland Economic Growth Associates, a statewide, private-sector economic-development group composed of the top executives of the state's largest companies and has been its president for the past five years.

Mr. Moseley was co-chairman of the finance committee in Maryland for President Bush's 1988 campaign. And, according to Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, he once considered running for the U.S. Senate.

"This goes back to the early 1980s," said Mrs. Bentley, "but once he saw some of the things involved, he decided this was not his bag."

Joyce Terhes, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party, credits the insurance executive with rebuilding the GOP in the state and safeguarding the two-party system here.

Mr. Moseley could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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