OTTAWA - Last week, my work wife, friend of 20 years, and the president of Summa Strategies, Tracey Hubley, died unexpectedly. Many have already shared wonderful memories of Tracey, the leader, mentor, and top professional. She was all those things, and more.
Tracey got a six-month head start on me at Summa and never looked back. Hired by Doug Young, Paul Zed, and Ken Whiting because of her smarts, entrepreneurial know-how, and obvious potential, she quickly established herself as a premiere government relations advocate in Ottawa.
A mere six years after joining the company at the young age of 40, she became our president. At that time, having a female leader of a Canadian lobbying business was a rare thing. But that was Tracey - a rare gem from Prince Edward Island who was making it big in the nation’s capital.
But Tracey was so much more than a corporate star. Upon hearing of her death last week, my 15-year-old niece burst into tears. She remembered Tracey as the nice woman who always had a treat for her when she visited Summa, took the time to play with her, and always had a keen interest in her life. Tracey herself never had children, but she leaves an army of young fans who all shared a deep fondness for her affection of them.
Tracey’s kindness and tender-hearted nature was the stuff of legend. When my dad died nearly seven years ago, she was one of the first people to get to Newfoundland to help our family out. Some 15 years ago, it was Tracey who helped pulled me off the floor when I was in a deep, dark depression. Somehow, she got through to me when others couldn’t.
Like in any relationship, Tracey and I had our ups and downs. We had periods of struggle, but I truly believe we never stopped our deep love of friendship for each other. For me, and for many, she will never really be gone from our lives.
Many of Tracey’s Summa family and many of her friends from Ottawa travelled to PEI to say a temporary goodbye to her. It was a magnificent send-off, attended by three former premiers of Prince Edward Island, numerous Members of Parliament, and a massive sandbox of Tracey’s fans from childhood to now.
Talking to Tracey’s friends from her early years, a common theme emerged: she remained effectively the same person they grew up with. A straight-talking, life-loving, humble girl from the Island who never lost track of who she was. A testament to that is few of her school buddies knew what an icon she was in Ottawa and in Canada. Tracey didn’t talk about herself much, as she was most often interested in you not in broadcasting her bio to you.
Tracey Hubley was truly one of a kind. My life and that of many others have been forever bettered for the time she lent us. Part of all of us will feel a bit empty because she is not around. If she knew that, she’d tell us all to get the “F” on with it. Strap on your big-girl pants and get shit done.
Tracey leaves behind her mom, Bert, her sister, Tammy, and her partner, Woody. Spare more than a thought for them in the days ahead, because filling the Tracey void is not going to be easy to do. She is now getting her eternal rest in her beloved PEI. Sleep well, my friend, you deserve it. We will never forget you and will try to properly honour your memory whenever we can. We’ll get the “F” on with it.
Tim Powers is vice-chairman of Summa Strategies and managing director of Abacus Data. He is a former adviser to Conservative political leaders.
Reprinted with permission from The Hill Times.