Tarpon Springs activist Mary Mosley left a legacy of environmental protection

TARPON SPRINGS — Mary Mosley fought the Stauffer Chemical plant in Tarpon Springs and won.

In the 1980s, she wrote a document called Six-A that was used by the state of Florida as a guide to protect wetlands, coastal and other environmentally sensitive areas.

In 1987, she battled the Clearwater Marine Science Center, now the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, for the release of a half-blind dolphin dubbed Sunset Sam.

Mosley died Friday, though no details regarding her death were immediately available. She was 70.

Arrangements are being handled by the Dobie Funeral Home in Tarpon Springs.

Her legacy, friends say, will be a better environment.

"There are no words to describe adequately her dedication," said Jessie Burke, a friend who joined many of the battles with Mosley. "She put herself on the line continuously for the environment of Tarpon Springs. She waded into many battles because she was following her conscious."

Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris agreed.

"It's a tremendous loss to the city of Tarpon Springs," Billiris said. "She was one of those pioneers. She was outspoken for the residents of the city and stood her ground."

Mosley was a Tarpon Springs commissioner from 1983-84 and served on the city's Planning and Zoning Board.

But protecting the area's environment became her passion.

In the mid 1960s, Mosley and her daughter crawled up a storm sewer pipe to prove that oil draining into Spring Bayou was coming from two automobile dealerships. That excursion led Pinellas County to prohibit car dealers from dumping used oil down sewers.

In the late 1970s, Mosley set her sights on Stauffer Chemical, a phosphate processing plant that sat on the bank of the Anclote River. She wrote letters, contacted public officials and took pictures in an effort to show the dangers that the plant was creating for the environment.

Stauffer closed in 1981 and the 160-acre site was later put on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list as one of the nation's most polluted sites. Stauffer paid to clean the area.

Mosley worked to protect dolphins, pelicans, wetlands and the Anclote River.

She often downplayed her role in the efforts.

"She was attempting to make sure we kept the environment and that area for future generations," said Dr. Rose Mary Ammons, who lived in Tarpon Springs for more than 20 years but who now lives in Lutz. "She fought really, really hard and was as successful as one can be when they are fighting big corporations and the government. It's a loss to the community."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs activist Mary Mosley left a legacy of environmental protection 05/01/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 10:03pm]

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