Henrietta C. Mosley, 77, neighborhood activist

July 27, 1999|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Henrietta Cleveland Mosley, a West Baltimore neighborhood activist who inspired enactment of a law that prevented an elderly neighbor from losing her home, died Thursday of cancer at Stella Maris Hospice. She was 77.

Mrs. Mosley founded the Woodbrook Avenue Neighborhood Association in 1977 after becoming upset over widespread litter on the street. She was president of the group from its inception.

When she heard that an elderly neighbor was about to lose her home to the city over a small unpaid alley-repaving bill, she went into action.

With then-Del. Ralph M. Hughes of Baltimore, Mrs. Mosley went to Annapolis to lobby for homeowners' protection against such practices. The result was the Chase-Mosley law, named in honor of Mrs. Mosley and the neighbor whose home she helped save. The bill was passed in the early 1980s.

"I consider my neighbors my family, and we watch out for each other. To think that they were going to seize her home over a matter of less than $100 is a disgrace," Mrs. Mosley said.

Mr. Hughes later nominated Mrs. Mosley for a Baltimore "Unsung Heroes" award given by his office, and she was honored at Coppin State College in December 1996.

In part, the award read: "One of [Mrs. Mosley's] greatest accomplishments was the enactment of the Chase-Mosley bill, which prevents the city from taking a person's home away because [they] can not pay for his or her alley repairs."

A native of Coronaca, S.C., Mrs. Mosley was raised by an elder sister in Alexandria, Va., after her mother died when she was age 4. She attended public schools in Alexandria and moved to Baltimore in 1939 after her marriage to Ray Mosley, who survives her.

She worked as a psychiatric aide at Rosewood Hospital Center in Owings Mills until a back injury she suffered in 1968 caused her to retire. Her health and spirit suffered for nine years as the pain from three ruptured discs increased.

Her transformation in 1977 from a woman worn down by pain to a community leader occurred one day as she pondered her life, she told an interviewer several years ago.

"One day I said, `Girl, are you going to live or die?' " She then founded the neighborhood association and went to work.

"She was one of those people who tell you to help people in need," said grandson William Ray Mosley, 29, who moved in with his grandparents 11 years ago after the death of his mother.

"She was a very deep, spiritual person," he said. "She loved God and praised him all the time."

During the summer, Mrs. Mosley led an effort to beautify the neighborhood with flowers and paid children to water plants and clean streets.

She was an accomplished cook and baker, baking pies and cakes for the sick and elderly at holidays and sometimes earning money cooking for other families.

For more than 50 years, Mrs. Mosley was a member of Union Baptist Church at Druid Hill Avenue and Dolphin Street in West Baltimore, where services will be held at 11: 30 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Mosley is survived by two sons, Stanley Mosley and Lawrence Edward Mosley, and a daughter, Marjorie Mosley Hines, all of Baltimore; 16 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Child First educational program at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Ave., Baltimore 21217.

Pub Date: 7/27/99

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