'A caring individual': Nova Scotia Black community remembers trailblazing pastor fondly
LOWER SACKVILLE, N.S. -- The Black community in Nova Scotia is mourning the loss of a trailblazer, but her death is also being felt across the country.
Rev. Tracey Grosse of Cherry Brook, N.S., passed away last week after a battle with cancer.
She's being remembered by friends and admirers for her dedication to her church, her community and always the greater good.
If there was any place Rev. Grosse felt at home, it was at the pulpit.
Ordained in 1996, she became the first Black female in the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada.
"If you have never met Tracey Grosse, she's a person who has a really deep love of God," said Rhonda Britton, the pastor at New Horizons Baptist Church.
And she was deeply serious about it, according to Britton, who followed in Grosse's footsteps as a pastor.
They sometimes had to tease her to get her to lighten up -- especially in public.
"This was a very reverend reverend, you know? And you just didn't fool around and play around with Rev. Tracey," Britton said. "So it was foreign to me, and I would look at her as this very austere person that you just couldn't crack that smile or whatever, but she took the role very seriously."
When gun violence was getting out of control in Halifax, it was Rev. Grosse who was front-and-centre in speaking out for peace.
Although she served in nearly half a dozen churches, it was a 20-year role at Cobequid Road United Baptist in Lower Sackville, N.S., where her name remains proudly displayed outside.
The past president of Acadia Divinity College was among those who knew her as a pastor before calling her a friend.
"I found her to be full of integrity, someone who speaks the truth and prepares well," said Harry Gardner. "Gentle, but very assertive about the things she believed in and had confidence in for sure."
Friends included a former lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia -- a trailblazer herself -- who insisted on having a church service before her installation, and there was only one person she wanted to conduct it.
"She was a caring individual," said Mayann Francis. "She was truly a strong family person as well."
She feels blessed to have spoken with Rev. Grosse just a couple of weeks ago.
The reverend said she knew she wasn't long for the earth -- imparting wisdom and lessons right to the end.
"So, when I hung up the phone, I sat, and I just sort of looked out the window, and I said, 'Thank you God. Thank you so much for having her in my life, and for taking part in my service.' That was my thanks to God," said Francis.
Francis will be among those delivering remarks at the funeral for Rev. Grosse in Cherry Brook next Monday -- a final homecoming for a woman who touched the lives of so many during her 56 years.