James Mosley

James Mosley
May 20, 2008
By Anne M. Pappalardo, Eastern Connecticut State University, University Relations Writer

Anyone who has met and spoken with Eastern Connecticut State University graduate, James M. Mosley ’08, walks away from the experience feeling as though they should have asked him for two things – his secret for remaining active during retirement and his autograph.

Mosley, 78, received a Bachelor of General Studies with concentrations in Social Science and Biology at Commencement on May 18. Mosley, who took most of his courses at Eastern’s Groton site, was awarded 51 credits through the Credit for Lifelong Learning (CLL) program. The CLL program offered by Eastern helps adults earn credits for college-level learning gained through work, volunteerism, and other experiences. Assistant Dean and CLL Coordinator Nancy Tarkmeel said, “As far as I know, Jim is the oldest student to complete Eastern’s CLL program.”

One of 13 children, Mosley was born on Aug. 12, 1929 and raised in Homestead, PA. Although there was not a military draft in place when he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy due to a lack of available jobs in the area.

He was trained as a Navy medical corpsman and stationed at various naval bases throughout the United States, including the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. In 1956 he became the first African American to attend the submarine medical technician school in Groton, where he graduated first in the class. He was also the first African American medical corpsman to attend and graduate from the Navy’s nuclear power school in Groton. During his career as a medical corpsman, Mosley was assigned to tours of duty on the repair ship USS Cadmus, and the USS Volador, USS Skipjack and USS Thomas Edison, all submarines.

By the time he retired from the Navy in 1968, he had achieved the rank of senior chief hospital corpsman. Shortly after, he started working at Electric Boat in Groton. During his career there, he held positions as a buyer, subcontract administrator, minority business administrator and small business administrator. He retired in 1991 after 24 years with the company.

Mosley said his favorite thing about Eastern is its professors. “My favorite was Henriette Pranger, an instructor for the CLL seminar. She was the ultimate motivator. She took it personally to get you through this program – that’s how hard she worked at it. Everyone will tell you the same thing about her,” said Mosley. When asked about Mosley, Pranger said, “Jim is a brilliant man – far more intelligent, well-read, and industrious than any other human being I have ever met. Whoever coined the phrase, ‘live life to its fullest’ must have done so after meeting Mr. Mosley. He looks at every new day and every person he meets as another opportunity to learn. I learned more from him than he learned from me.”

In addition to his impressive career achievements, Mosley has also experienced a number of highlights in his personal life. He was profiled in the 2005 book, Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940 to 1975 by Glenn Knoblock, who has encouraged Mosley to pen his autobiography. He also had the opportunity to meet Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, and Thurgood Marshall.

Mosley and his wife, Lillie, were married for 31 years before she died of a stroke in 1985. During his career with the Navy, the family relocated according to his assignments until they bought a home in Waterford, where he still resides. He has been married to his second wife, Gloria, for 20 years. Mosley, who has lost a son and stepson, speaks proudly of his remaining four children and two stepchildren. He graduated from Eastern on his youngest daughter’s birthday.

Mosley remains active during retirement. He enjoys gardening and traveling with Gloria and is keeping busy as a member of a legislative political action team that is currently focusing on preserving veterans’ benefits. He visits the Groton submarine base whenever he has the chance and enjoys joining in on pick-up basketball games with Navy recruits.

Although he has received his diploma, Mosley has no plans to slow down. He is planning to take a year off to write his autobiography, and the following year he plans to begin graduate studies in either molecular biology or African-American history.

Eastern Connecticut State University is part of the Connecticut State University (CSU) system and is the state’s public liberal arts university. Eastern serves more than 5,000 students each year on its Willimantic campus.