By Chris Levister
THAD, THE FLORAL MINISTER
By definition Thad Mosely is a florist. But to his many loyal customers he is a Christian servant whose spectacular floral creations of celebration, comfort, and romance are nothing short of ministry.
Valentine's Day was days away. While most florists labored in pressure cooker havens of designers, roses, greenery, bows and phones ringing off the hook, Mosely was a picture of calm outside the sanctuary of Loma Linda University Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
"I'm applying gold leaf paint to this greenery. It gives the flowers that dazzling effect."
Mosely had under an hour to ribbon and place his two huge not Valentine red but gold and purple creations on pedestals in the sanctuary for the start of the School of Dentistry's Dedication Service. "His creations are works of art," says Associate Dean Fred Kasischke, DMin.
If you think Mosely was worried about missing out on the industry's biggest cash haul, think again. Last minute lovers and suitors couldn't drop in and grab a Valentine bouquet on the run. At Thad's Premier Floral and Gifts there are no walk-ins and no walls, telephone orders only at (909) 799-1185. When orders reached a ceiling the phone came off the hook.
"The Valentine bouquets are declarations of love, always fresh, meticulously trimmed and personally arranged by me. My customers have come to expect only the best."
Mosely, a Seventh-Day Adventist, says he has chosen to live his life in a way that brings honor to his family, profession, community and God. "I am a servant and sometimes that means choosing service and quality over profits."
He recalls one Valentine's Day when everyone in his Loma Linda shop hadn't slept for days. There were blossoms to order, vases to prep, bows to tie, and non-stop calls from frantic last minute cupids.
"Bouquets were flying out the door. We sold everything in the house and then some," he said. That night the reality of owning a small business hit home.
"After paying the floral wholesalers, suppliers and overtime to my workers, I made $50.00 in profit. I looked down at my greenery stained clothes, my eyes were bloodshot, my hands were raw - I called my mother and cried like a baby. I knew I had to make a choice between big profits or dedicating my professional life to the service of humanity."
Mosely closed his shop after many years in favor of a telephone-only business. Although he can create single bouquets, he prefers custom weddings, sympathy, church services and special events. His gourmet floral and gift baskets are legendary.
"His work is extraordinary," says Karen Hansberger, M.D., former mayor of Loma Linda and member of the University Church. Mosely's unique creations of exotic and traditional flowers wowed guests at Hansberger's 2005 wedding and adorn her home during the Christmas holidays. "His designs instill a deep sense of love, warmth, and celebration."
Mosely has been dabbling in catering, event planning and floristry since childhood. For several years he worked in the University Library, his unique designs for staff events drew raves and soon led to a scholarship with the nationally recognized Teleflora Company. That led to advanced training in wedding and sympathy work and study with the owners of the world renown Phil Rulloda's School of Floral Design located in Anaheim.
He takes pride in lecturing members of the local Scottish community on cultural floristry utilizing traditional flower emblems. "Most people associate the Scots with plaids. Each family known as a clan has their own plaid but they also have their own flower emblem." Mosely is also studying flowers indigenous to Africa. He says floral arrangements reflecting the African wedding tradition of ‘jumping the broom' demonstrate the powerful language and history of flowers.
"The red rose is all for love. The yellow rose which in the 17th century represented jealousy today means peace. Pink is all about happiness."
Mosely says he is disappointed by the lack of business clients from the local African-American community. He says despite years of marketing and charitable giving he is all but overlooked by the areas many Black churches and minority civic organizations.
"It breaks my heart. I'm a Black man. My creations are unique and highly lauded, yet among my own people I am largely the ‘go to for a deal florist'," said Mosely.
He recalls once during a floral setup he was approached by a group of African-American women. "They wanted to know more about my designs. I was under pressure to finish the project. I asked them to wait 5 minutes. They quickly became impatient and walked away vowing to buy flowers from Conroy's, a chain florist."
Mosely provides weekly service to a local Spanish and an Indonesian church and has created elaborate arrangements for the NAACP's annual Pioneer Dinner and the coveted yearly Booker T. Washington luncheon held at the Mission Inn.
"His arrangements are spectacular one-of-a-kind creations. Thad is a dependable and kind servant," said the organizer for both events, Cheryl Brown, publisher of the Black Voice News.
Mosely who daily prepares hot meals for three local needy families says his desire to partner with Black churches and minority organizations is driven by his endeavor to reflect God's mercy and compassion - not profits. "Yes I have to pay the bills. But in the end my rewards spring from serving. It's beautiful!"
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