Hundreds of people packed a Camden church Saturday to pay homage to Josephine Mozee, a beloved teaching assistant killed in a traffic accident who was mourned as “truly an angel” who made an impact in her school and community -- and even on NJ Transit bus rides.
During an upbeat, nearly three-hour service at Higher Ground Temple Church of God in Christ in North Camden, Mozee, 69, was remembered with her favorite hymns as well as prayers and tributes that included tears and laughter. She had been a member for eight years and was involved in 10 ministries and wanted to join more.
”That’s a good woman right there,” said Bishop E.M. Barron, the church’s pastor, choking back tears as he led a processional of religious leaders from several churches down the center aisle to stand before her white casket, surrounded by floral arrangements. “She preached her service by the way she lived.”
Mozee died Dec. 16 at Cooper University Hospital from injuries sustained when she was struck by a car the day before, only blocks from her home, authorities said. The accident remains under investigation. Authorities said the driver remained at the scene at 11th and Newton Streets and no charges were filed. Mozee was walking home after picking up fruit and vegetables at a produce market, her family said.
Her death sent shock waves through Pennsauken High, where she had been a teaching assistant since 2016. Mozee never missed a day of work and colleagues say she arrived an hour before school began to greet students and staff with a cheery welcome. She often stayed late, too, working with troubled students in an after-school alternative program.
School Superintendent Ronnie Tarchichi said Mozee would greet him in the hallways and “would always let me know she was praying for my family.” He said she was “truly an angel.”
Mozee never learned to drive, so she took the bus to Pennsauken, getting up around 4 a.m. and walking several blocks to the bus stop to get to school by 6, coworkers said.
Once on the NJ Transit bus, Mozee insisted on praying before she would let the bus pull off, said Dwight Thompson, a driver for the route she took every day. She always was willing to offer a hug or prayer to anyone who needed it, he said.
“She would say that ‘I’m going to pray that we’re going to arrive and that everybody has a blessed day.' She’s going to be greatly missed,” Thompson told mourners. “She was such an awesome woman.”
Born in Kingstree, S.C., the oldest of six children, Mozee moved to Camden when she was 16. She graduated from Camden High in 1968.
She was employed for 20 years as a certified nursing assistant for Camden County in the Lakeland Complex. She later worked at a day-care center in Camden before joining the Pennsauken school district.
Throughout the funeral, there were refrains of “Nobody but God,” Mozee’s favorite saying. A black cloth with her photo was draped over the second-row pew where she sat every Sunday with the deacons and where the cloth will remain for a 30-day period of mourning.
In addition to her church work, Mozee volunteered once a month at the Cathedral Kitchen, which provides meals and services to the needy in Camden. Bishop Barron said she loved her outreach and street ministry and had more than 50 religious tracts in her pockets that she planned to distribute when she was fatally struck.
“Every church needs a Josephine,” her pastor said. The Disciples of the Living Christ, a motorcycle club, escorted the funeral procession to Lakeview Cemetery in Cinnaminson, where she was laid to rest.
She is survived by a son, two daughters, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, two sisters, and two brothers. Her husband, Roy, died in 1997.