The Inspiration: Rose Mosley

Her warmth, non-judgmental nature, giving spirit and unwavering faith left an indelible impression on those fortunate enough to have known her. I lived with her for a while after I finished college, and we were extremely close. She often advised me to do what was in my heart and encouraged me to share what I know with the world, thus serving as an inspiration for


Born in May of 1911 in Philadelphia, Rose Mosley grew up far from the lap of luxury and faced her share of life struggles, but she never lost sight of her own dreams. For example, Rose married at 15, had her first child before 16 and, as a result, was forced to drop out of high school. She strongly advocated education for each of her 9 children and many grandchildren. Rose never gave up on her own dream of becoming a high school graduate, and in 1983, at age 72, Rose obtained her GED.

To those who knew her, Rose was a symbol of warm generosity and immense inner resource. Her modest three-bedroom, one-bath home in Roselle, New Jersey was always welcoming, no matter what the circumstance. She and her husband lived there for over 50 years and raised 9 children. To make ends meet, Rose initially cleaned homes for wealthy families. Then, wanting to have more flexibility over her life and more time to care for family, Rose opened and operated a daycare center out of her home where most kids in the neighborhood spent their afternoons. By creating that daycare, Rose managed to align her career with the domestic caring for others she valued so much.

An entrepreneurial spirit, Rose also decided to create another source of income by baking and selling her legendary melt-in-your-mouth rolls. Rose was creative and determined to help provide for her family. But more than just caring for those in her household, Rose was known as a giving soul throughout her community. Despite the financial and temporal restraints of raising a soccer team worthy of children on a low income, Rose was dedicated to serving others. She held the key to the Heard Baptist Church and ran the church food pantry that was in charge of giving out food to the poor. Rose was also known more widely as a “go-to” woman to her church family: If you needed something from the church, Rose Mosley could get it for you. After her children were grown, she led an effort to help provide transportation for those who had trouble getting around and drove a shuttle bus for senior citizens when she was close to being a senior herself.

Rose’s path was not always an easy one. She lost one son, Gerald, at a young age in a house fire and another son, Terrel, to homicide. She buried two additional sons: Carlie succumbed to cancer and her oldest, Donald, had a heart attack. Rose watched her husband, Louis, die of a heart attack. Furthermore, she was a breast cancer survivor. Yet even in her personal times of struggle, Rose was a rock of support for her family. Her spirituality played a large role in her ability to handle such situations while maintaining her characteristic, positive attitude. After she was diagnosed with cancer, I asked if she was afraid to die. She responded, “When we are born, Valerie, our days are numbered. We just don’t know when our number will be called. So we just have to live our life as best we can. So, no I am not afraid.” In times of turbulence, Rose chose to find the joy in life. And, in doing so, she inspired others (including myself) to do the same.

Rose embraced herself, unashamed to be who she was. When people asked her about her breast cancer, she would often begin to pull down her shirt to show the scar without embarrassment while saying “Want to see?” Rose was barely 5’1”, but wasn’t exactly a petite woman. Well-endowed in the lower half of her body and slightly bowlegged, she rocked when she walked. While Rose might not have fit the stereotypical standards of beauty of her era, she always seemed comfortable in her own skin. Rarely are people willing to love themselves as they are, and Rose was a great, early example for me.


Therefore, it is so fitting that Rose, one of the most impactful persons in my life, is our first Heart Being featured. Empathetic, kind and generous in sharing herself, her wisdom and her unconditional love, Rose was an inspiration to me and to many others. Rose died one month before her 100th birthday in 2011. She embraced and loved herself and her family. She did what was in her heart and encouraged me to follow mine. This advice has served me, my loved ones and my community well. Now I want to share her advice — along with other lessons I’ve learned — with the world. Rose, your life and teachings will continue to shine.

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