Bernyce Clausell, the Tallahassee pastor known as Tallahassee’s “Black Mother Teresa,” died early Monday morning.
Clausell, who had been in good health until an apparent stroke three weeks ago, was 98. She died at her home on Joe Louis Street, just down the street from where she and her late husband founded Calvary Baptist Church in 1958.
A longtime civil rights activist, Clausell participated in the 1956 Tallahassee bus boycott. She was renowned for her work with the poor, spearheading food and clothing drives in the Big Bend for decades. She conducted prison ministries at Florida State Prison and worked on behalf of homeless issues in Leon and Gadsden counties.
Clausell, a thin woman who stood barely 5 feet tall, earned the tag of the “Black Mother Teresa” in 1984. Clausell had read a story about the “poorest town in America,” a black community near Tunica, Mississippi, called “Sugar Ditch,” where impoverished residents lacked running water and sewage ran in the streets.