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Mosley, Ruth Hartley


(1886 - 1975)  /  Inducted  1994


Ruth Hartley Mosley
Businesswoman, Philanthropist

“… to make loans to student nurses who need such funds to complete their training.”
– From Ruth Hartley Mosley’s will

Highlights:

  • 1910 – Becomes head nurse at sanatorium
  • 1917 – Marries Richard Hartley
  • 1919 – Becomes licensed embalmer
  • 1931 – Husband Richard Hartley dies
  • 1937 – Marries Fischer Mosley
  • 1938 – Begins service as public health nurse in Bibb County 1950s – Active in NAACP; becomes member of executive board
  • 1957 – Helps establish Booker T. Washington Community Center
  • 1967 – Sells funeral home
  • 1975 – Husband Fischer Mosley dies
  • 1975 – Dies at age 89

Ruth Price was a woman of commanding presence—tall, with a beautiful but very serious face and penetrating eyes. She had the look of a natural leader. She was born in Savannah in 1886, just a few years after the Age of Reconstruction. Her father was a bootmaker, proud of his craft, and he gave her a legacy of independence and determination that she used to serve her fellow Georgians.

With her father’s support, Ruth attained a high school education in Savannah before turning to one of the few careers available to educated black women in those days. She attended a seminar for nurse’s training in Concord, North Carolina, and completed her clinical training at Providence Hospital in Chicago.

Returning to Georgia, Ruth found a job at the Georgia State Sanatorium in Milledgeville. In 1910, at the age of 24, she was appointed head nurse of the “Colored Females Department” at the hospital. She was the first black woman to achieve that rank. In those days a mental hospital was little more than a human storehouse, and Ruth undoubtedly saw human need at its most elemental in her role of treating patients.

In 1917, Ruth married Richard Hartley, a Macon, Georgia, businessman. Probably at her urging, Richard sold the saloon he owned and bought an interest in a funeral home. Ruth subsequently went back into training and became a licensed mortician. With their success in the funeral business, the couple began to invest in real estate and other ventures.

Following the death of Richard Hartley in 1931, Ruth continued to invest and build her fortune. Six years later she married Fisher Mosley of New York City. In 1938 she began serving as a nurse with the Health Department and with Bibb County Schools.

As Ruth rose to social prominence in Macon over the years, she traveled widely, took speech lessons, and developed a refined speaking style. She also established a beautiful home on Spring Street in Macon’s historic district, near the Steward Chapel AME Church, where she served for many years as trustee and treasurer.

Active in the Civil Rights movement, Ruth planned and participated in sit-ins and was a leader of Macon’s NAACP. She was also a founding board member of the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

When she died in 1975 at age 89, Ruth’s estate included two large trust funds. The first established the Ruth Hartley Mosley Memorial Fund which provided assistance to needy students seeking to become nurses or other providers of health care. The other fund established the Ruth Hartley Mosley Memorial Women’s Center, located in her home on Spring Street.

Ruth achieved striking success against heavy odds in her lifetime, and her success was not merely in personal gain but in service to others.


Additional Resources:

Ruth Hartley Mosley Women’s Center
Macon, GA 31204
(478) 742-6409

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