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Mrs. Gladys Virginia Williams Moss was born in Bowman, S.C. on December 1, 1934. She was born to the late Lurline Felder Fogle and the late Sylvester Williams. During her early years, Mrs. Moss grew up on a rural sharecrop farm and attended Bowman Rosenwald School. Living only a half mile from the school, she had a great opportunity to participate in a variety of academic and extra-curricular activities. Mrs. Moss was a social, outgoing student having participated in organizations such as the Glee Club, the Talent club and she was head cheerleader of the Cheering Squad. These activities had a profound effect on her and was the inspiration for her future interest in helping and supporting young students in developing their creative and intellectual talents. “Mama Moss,” as she was affectionate called, met the love of her life while in her high school days. United States Army Sgt. Thomas Moss came into her life and swept her off her feet. She thought he was “kinda bossy and thought he was her daddy” but she fell in love with him anyway and they were married right after her high school graduation. They soon had their first child, a daughter, Thomasina, and Gladys settled in to become a housewife and mother. But Mr. Moss had other plans. He said that she needed to get her college degree so he sent her to Claflin College (now University) where she studied Education. Three months prior to graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, she gave birth to her second child, a son, Andre’ Sylvester. Mrs. Moss always had talent for multi-tasking – she finished her senior year of college and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (as the
only pledgee, by the way) all while pregnant with her son! Gladys Moss was a force to be reckoned with!
During her early career, Mrs. Moss excelled as an insurance sales agent for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company for four years, where she earned numerous citations and awards. Though she enjoyed life as an insurance agent, her heart still longed to teach. She wanted to continue her education to become a certified special education teacher. She discovered that there was no South Carolina college that offered an essential course that she needed for her degree, so she temporarily separated from her family and relocated to Long Island, New York to attend Hofstra College. While there, she was hired as an activity/drama specialist for a summer session in their Upward Bound Program. She earned her degree and returned her to her family and to a job as a special education teacher in Bamberg School District One in Bamberg, SC. She worked there for over thirty years. Mrs. Moss developed the motto “Enter to learn and depart to serve” during the course of her career and she consistently used her skills and abilities to lovingly serve others. She made a major impact on her students on all levels, providing sound instruction to them, serving as a resource, support and mentor to many.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Moss was actively involved in many civic, social, charitable, religious and youth-oriented activities and was the recipient of many awards and recognition. During 1966, young black women were not allowed to participate as debutantes in developmental activities along with young white women. With a compassionate heart to fill this void, on February 25, 1967, Mrs. Moss filed a declaration and petition to the Secretary of State for the state of South Carolina for the incorporation of the Sisterhood Surrounding Communities Organization (S.C.O.) of South
Carolina to provide developmental cultural activities for young Black women. For over 55 years, she led this organization in providing countless beneficial events and programs for many young Black women to build confidence and enhance their skills. She directed pageants, weddings, cultural programs and educational tours throughout America, Canada and the Bahamas.
Mrs. Moss was the chairperson of the Bowman Rosenwald School Committee. In conjunction with the Orangeburg Chapter of The Links, Inc., she led efforts to identify the site of the former Bowman Rosenwald School and to raise funds to erect a historical marker on the designated site. She had the distinction of an Endowment Scholarship Fund established in her name by the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond since 1990. This scholarship is awarded annually to deserving students at Claflin University. In addition to these achievements, the following are among her many other community affiliations, professional organizations and awards: Diamond Life Member of the NAACP; member of the local, state and National Education Association; civic Leader of America Award, 1968; named a Personality of the South in 1969; profiled in The World Who’s Who of Women, 74-75; Andrew Chapel Baptist Church Senior Citizen Award, 2000; Golden Diploma Member, Claflin University, 2008; member of Church Women United, and Trailblazer of the Year 2022.
Gladys Moss, side-by-side with her husband, Thomas Moss, and her family was an unsung hero and pioneer in the Civil
Rights Movement in the early 1960s. She and her husband assisted in leading the charge to integrate the public schools of Orangeburg County and other public facilities, including the hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Moss allowed their children, six-yearold Andre’ and fifth grade Thomasina, to be among the first nineteen Black students to integrate the Orangeburg City schools in 1964. During a 1964 demonstration in downtown Orangeburg, Mrs. Moss fell and was seriously injured. Her personal integration efforts as a patient in the Orangeburg Regional Hospital resulted in her being integrated in the hospital during her confinement, leading to the hospital being fully integrated in 1968. Mrs. Moss described the involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, as a panelist in an event hosted by the University of South Carolina “Justice for All: A Conversation about Orangeburg, School Desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement” like this: “It was about marches, sit-ins, going to jail, picketing, sign-making, photo-taking and meetings during the day and evening seven days a week for over a year.”
Mrs. Gladys Moss was initiated into the Orangeburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., in Orangeburg in 1997. She was a Diamond Life Delta and served as Chaplain, a member of the Social Action, Delta Dears, fundraising and Founders’ Day committees. She was a long-standing member of Andrew Chapel Baptist Church of Orangeburg where her husband became a Deacon in 1958. As the wife of Deacon Thomas Moss, Gladys consistently provided outreach to people and ministered to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs through acts of mercy and compassionate care. She served in the Sunday School, Bible Study, and as a former president of the Pulpit Aid club. She was a true missionary and a blessing in her Christian service. During the commemoration of the 106th Anniversary of Andrew Chapel Baptist Church, her family was recognized as Anniversary Family of the Year, 1985.
Mrs. Moss was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas Moss and her daughter, Thomasina Moss Smith. She was the proud mother of Thomasina and Andre’.
She leaves behind to mourn her a host of family and friends. She had the keen mind of a historian with a strong recollection of past experiences and events with solid resources to substantiate them. She was always ready to tell a masterful story and provide a dynamic history lesson. Her boundless energy and loving heart were a blessing to all. In the words of many who knew her, “Mrs.Moss was truly a phenomenal woman.”
The service will proceed as follows:
The viewing will be held on Thursday, September 21,2023 at Glover's Funeral Home from 1:00pm until 7:00pm.
The funeral will be held on Friday, September 22,2023 at Andrew Chapel Baptist Church beginning at 1:00pm. All those attending service must wear a mask and adhere to all COVID-19 rules and regulations.