State Senator Dorothy Hukill, who has represented Volusia County in the Florida Legislature since 2004, passed away on Tuesday after a battle with cancer, according to a message posted on her Facebook page by her son Jonathan Hukill. She was 72.
Just last week, Hukill had posted a message that she had experienced an “aggressive recurrence” of the cancer for which she had received treatment in 2016, and had made the decision with her family to no longer seek re-election to her senate seat and to enter hospice care.
Born in New York City, Hukill earned a bachelor’s degree from Hunter’s College, part of the City University of New York, a master’s degree from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, and a law degree from St. John’s University of Law.
She became a Floridian in 1988, and started a lifelong career of public service in education, law, and politics. She initially settled in Ponce Inlet and served as a Councilwoman from 1992 to 1994, then moved to Port Orange, serving as Vice Mayor from 1998 to 2000 and Mayor from 2000 to 2004.
In 2004, Hukill ran to replace Democrat Suzanne Kosmas in the state representative seat for her district, and became the first Republican to hold that seat in decades. After term limits ended her time in the Florida House, she successfully ran for the Senate seat.
Hukill was well-liked and respected by her colleagues, and fond remembrances and prayers for her family have poured in from both sides of the political aisle.
With great sadness, we inform you our friend and colleague Senator Dorothy Hukill has passed away. 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. pic.twitter.com/nGKGiOmYov
— Florida Senate (@FLSenate) October 2, 2018
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. pic.twitter.com/dJ1lRVFCEY
— Joe Negron (@joenegronfl) October 2, 2018
Dorothy was an amazingly charismatic and passionate person. I will always remember her quick wit and tremendous sense of humor. She was as fierce as she was loving. She demonstrated grace and beauty in suffering and maintained her fighting spirit until the very end. pic.twitter.com/4oBNTq6Efq
— Senator Bill Galvano (@BillGalvano) October 2, 2018
Our prayers are with Senator Dorothy Hukill's family and loved ones. Senator Hukill took pride in her work serving the people of Florida. We thank her for her years of dedication as an educator and a public servant.
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) October 2, 2018
I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of my friend and colleague Senator Dorothy Hukill. Dorothy was an extremely passionate legislator, who worked above and beyond to ensure that the good people of Senate District 14 had a voice within our democracy. pic.twitter.com/qPUdgNp67K
— Annette Taddeo (@Annette_Taddeo) October 2, 2018
The Florida Senate will not be the same without Sen. Dorothy Hukill. She was never afraid to ask tough questions and stand up for her constituents. Rest In Peace my friend.
— Dana Young (@danayoungR57) October 2, 2018
We have some sad news to report: Dorothy has passed away peacefully in hospice care surrounded by her family.
Dorothy was many things. Before everything else, she put her family first. 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.
But beyond the work itself, she treasured the personal relationships and friendships made along the way. She loved staying in touch with people in her community, hearing about their lives, sharing their joys and sorrows. Every trip to the grocery store or the post office was a new opportunity to connect with her neighbors and friends.
We are terribly sad that she’s no longer with us, and we know that everyone who was fortunate enough to know her will feel pain when reading these words. But we also remember one of Dorothy’s great gifts, the ability to comfort others in times of need. One of her favorite sayings was “this too shall pass.” She would want us to remember her for the life she lived rather than the pain that her passing has caused.
When Dorothy first shared the news of her health on Friday, a close friend spontaneously came up with a wonderful hashtag that we found so touching: #HukillForever. If you also find it meaningful, please feel free to use it as you remember Dorothy in the coming days. Her family is comforted to know that her legacy will indeed carry on forever through so many others whose lives she impacted.
A private, invitation-only family service will be held, while public services will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Dorothy’s family asks that you consider a donation to the Halifax Health Hospice facility in Port Orange, whose dedicated and caring staff took such wonderful care of her in these last days.
We thank you for always keeping Dorothy in your heart.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.