Calling her “a strong and passionate advocate for her community,” Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. announced Tuesday the passing of Sen. Dorothy Hukill who fought a battle against cancer in recent years. She was 72.
Hukill was diagnosed in late 2016 with cervical cancer and missed the entire 2017 legislative session. She appeared to have overcome the cancer and returned to the Legislature for this year’s session.
Just last week, Hukill announced on Facebook that she had “recently experienced an aggressive recurrence” of the cancer and was receiving hospice care. On that same Facebook page, Hukill’s family announced her death.
“We have some sad news to report: Dorothy has passed away peacefully in hospice care surrounded by her family,” her son, Jonathan, posted.
“Dorothy was many things. Before everything else, she put her family first.,” Jonathan Hukill wrote.
“She was a faithful daughter, a loving wife, and a caring mother. She also took great pride in her work, the work of improving the lives of people she cared about. Whether as a schoolteacher helping young children, a legal advocate for those who needed help, or a public servant fighting on behalf of her constituents’ causes, she threw herself completely into serving others.”
Hukill represented parts of Volusia and Brevard counties in the Legislature since 2004, first as a member of the Florida House before being elected to the Senate in 2012.
“Whenever I was in District 14 with Senator Hukill, I could literally feel the affection and admiration of her community,” Negron recalled. “Even after her election to the Florida House and Senate, many constituents still warmly called her ‘Mayor,’ in fond recognition of her term as Mayor of Port Orange from 2000 to 2004.
“In recent years, Dorothy faced her medical challenges with tremendous courage,” Negron went on to say. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. The prayers of the entire Senate family are with Senator Hukill’s family and friends, and we join in their grief over this terrible loss.”
Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, remembered Hukill as being an “amazingly charismatic and passionate person.” Galvano first met Hukill when she was running for the House in 2004.
“I will always remember her quick wit and tremendous sense of humor. She was as fierce as she was loving,” Galvano said. “You could see Dorothy across the room and know in an instant whether she approved or disapproved of the issue at hand. In recent years, Dorothy served as a role model for of us as she battled her illness with optimism and bravery. She demonstrated grace and beauty in suffering and maintained her fighting spirit until the very end.”
Galvano described Hukill as “a strong and tireless advocate for children and education.” adding that the Senate “will miss her dedication and enthusiasm for these and so many other important issues.”
“My heart is aching,” said incoming Democratic leader, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. “Senator Hukill was not only a colleague, she was a good friend. We shared our thoughts, our passions on issues, and never-ending conversations. From passing little trinkets to each other, to our love of Chinese food, her loss is profound and I will miss her dearly.”
Galvano remembered Hukill for having a “penchant” for welcome signs, which he said kept the Senate Graphics Office busy during session.
“The plethora of signs became such a running joke among the Senators that one year Senator Hukill left many of us personalized signs welcoming us to our spaces in the Senate Parking Garage and to our desks in the Senate Chamber,” Galvano reminisced. “I have no doubt that as we grieve her loss today, the gates of heaven are adorned with a huge sign welcoming Dorothy to her eternal home.”