by Chasidy Rae Sisk

Few people get to leave this world on their own terms, but true to who he was as a person, John Mosley, age 69, shed his mortal coil on December 21 just how he lived his life: his way.

An aviation aficionado who owned and flew historic airplanes, Mosley was even more devoted to Carolyn, his wife of 48 years and his children, Patty and Daniel. In addition to owning Clinton Body Shop, Hangar 360 Aircraft Services and John’s 360 Coatings, Mosley served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and was a founding member of the Mississippi Collision Repair Association. He also fought for shops’ and consumers’ rights in the way that he did everything else…passionately but respectfully.

ABAT President Burl Richards (Burl’s Collision; Henderson) first met Mosley over a decade ago when “he wanted to get some shops together to meet with legislators in Washington DC to discuss the 1963 Consent Decree. The goal was to make them aware of it, explain why we wanted them to support it and make sure they were applying the applicable laws. He was so passionate about the industry, and that was just one of the things we shared in common. Over the years, we became great friends.”

During the 2018 Texas Auto Body Trade Show, ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle was introduced to Mosley as a “friend of Burl’s. We were all hanging out at a bar after the show, and we became fast friends. I quickly realized he was a great person to bounce association ideas off of.”

Mosley was “a true southern gentleman from his accent to his attitude,” according to Tuggle. “He offered a warm smiling face that was just the outer layer of someone who just kept surprising you the more you got to know him, and he guarded his friends and stood up for what was right fiercely. I liked to call him ‘Johnny Mosley’ (like the skier, Jonny Moseley), and he would chuckle when I did. Every time I saw him, I just wanted to hug his neck.”

To many, he was more than a friend. “I’ve had very few mentors in my life, but John was 100 percent a mentor to me – he was at the top of the list,” Richards said. “I’ve always considered myself a consumer advocate; I’ll fight tooth and nail for my customers. But when John would disagree with someone, he had this extremely serious way of getting his point across in a professional, first-class manner. Sometimes, I struggle to keep my cool when I know I’m right, but he’s taught me how to handle that better. I’m sure I’ll still fail sometimes, but I’ll never have another conversation with an insurer without asking myself, ‘How would John handle that situation?’”

Mosley was a font of wisdom for a number of industry leaders. “I learned more from my friend than he probably ever realized,” shared SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg. “I know he was so grateful for his time spent serving SCRS, but truly for every one of us, we are the ones who were most grateful to have him. He was an important part of our family and will be missed, but every one of us is ready to tell his stories loudly and continue the work in his honor.”

He definitely encouraged others to advocate for the industry as well.

“When John got wind that I was going to California to witness the crash tests I was doing with Todd Tracy, he asked if he could come with me,” Richards recalled. “He told me to meet him in Mt. Pleasant, at his buddy Scott Glover’s place, and John flew his plane there. Scott flew us to DFW in his helicopter which was a pretty neat experience. From there, John and I flew to California, and as soon as we had a little spare time, he suggested we visit a local body shop, so we showed up unannounced, explained what we were doing and asked for a tour. Even then, John was thinking about the industry.”

Schulenburg struggled to recall when he first met Mosley. “It’s been a long time, and after so many industry events, it’s hard to think back to which was the first. I first met John when I was with the DEG, and I distinctly remember his call to congratulate me when I was hired as SCRS’ new executive director. He was so kind and excited, and it stood out to me. Our relationship really grew under our work together, in a variety of different capacities, through SCRS.”

He described Mosley as “soft-spoken but as loud as they come. He was filled with love and full of fight. He was noble, professional and full of conviction. In so many ways, he was larger than life – but never at the expense of being professional, humble and well-grounded. He knew exactly where he came from and who he was here to help.”

Likewise, Mike Anderson (Collision Advice) cannot recall how he first met Mosley, though he believes “it was at a local shop that I did some estimate training for in his market and he attended. John was kind, thoughtful, passionate, well-spoken and dedicated to doing the right thing…and he loved his airplanes! Some of my favorite memories of John include all the airplane and flying stories he would share, as well as when he showed me photos of the planes he restored. He was very proud, and it was cool learning about it.”

Veteran industry journalist Joel Gausten agreed that Mosley was an intriguing, well-rounded individual.

“John Mosley was many things. He was an industry leader who helped set the course for activism in Mississippi and beyond, and he was an industry soldier who was always willing to roll up his sleeves and do the work that needed to be done. He served his industry on the national level as part of the SCRS Board, and he served locally by once running for insurance commissioner of his home state. He was a fierce and fearless defender of collision repairers, and he was a kind and friendly man who never ceased to be courteous and respectful. Every conversation I ever had with him was a pleasure.”

Schulenburg is grateful for the many great memories he shared with Mosley. “From taking part in the crash tests at Karco, to our work together on Capitol Hill advocating for the preservation of the Consent Decree, to an amazing stroll through the French Quarter following one of the Southern Automotive Repair Conferences…No matter the setting, John never compromised who he was or what he believed in. People talk about having ideals and conviction in what they stand for, but John’s beliefs shined brightly and were ever present in his work, his conversation and his actions.

“You could see it in Washington DC,” he continued. “John was far more politically connected than most people even realize, and the way he spoke just forced every one of the members of Congress that we met with to listen. He spoke like their constituents, but armed with a lifetime of knowledge. It was earnest, touching and built on trust and respect. And almost every conversation he took part in led to a letter of support.”

Mosley’s love for his colleagues and his strong will were evident in the Facebook post his family made to announce his passing, at his request, which read: “His body was tired, and he was ready to be with the good Lord. He wanted to make sure you all know that he loves you and appreciates each and everyone of you. He thanks his customers for always having faith in him. He has had a great life full of a multitude of blessings. He asks that each of you continue to keep the faith and do good things and he expects to see you all on the other side. He wants you all to know that cancer did not win. Dad won, he is in his eternal home celebrating with those that have gone before him. He asks that you all do not cry for him and do not let this dampen your Christmas spirit. He is adamant that we remind you all that he loves you!”

“It speaks volumes that when John’s family announced his passing, they stressed that he wouldn’t have wanted the news to dampen anyone’s Christmas spirit,” Gausten pointed out. “That’s the kind of man John Mosley was. I’m really going to miss him.”

“There’s a void that will always be there,” Richards lamented. “You cannot replace John Mosley – what he meant to the industry, to my business and to me personally…he left a void that will never be filled.”

Yet, Richards feels more at peace with the loss after attending Mosley’s funeral. “My wife and I went to Mt. Pleasant where Scott Glover flew us and several others to Mississippi in a DC-3 (similar to one of John’s). They held the visitation in John’s hangar, and at least 300 people showed up to pay their respects; it was a huge service and very uplifting. After the visitation, several pilots honored John with a ‘missing man formation’ as they flew over the property. Finally, we walked across the pasture and up the hill to the small cemetery on the property where John was buried. I left that day with a really good feeling.”

Richards admires how Mosley arranged his affairs at the end. “Even in death, I’m learning from John Mosley. He knew what was facing him, and he made the calls. I have no doubt that John’s wife, son and daughter will carry on the traditions and legacy that John left behind. We all have an opportunity to leave our mark on this world when we leave it, and because of John, this world is a better place.”

Mosley left a lasting legacy on more than the few individuals that spoke with Texas Automotive about his life. Hundreds showed up to pay their respects at his funeral to honor the man who made a difference in their careers and their lives.

Anderson expressed it best, “The world is a better place because of John Mosley; if we all aspired to be more like John, the industry would be forever changed. He was dedicated and ethical to the core!”

Schulenburg challenged the industry to pick up Mosley’s mantle and change the industry for the better: “Continue to make John proud in your actions, in your fight for what is right. He would love to know that we all served the same mission.”  

Want more? Check out the February 2023 issue of Texas Automotive!