ORLANDO | Terry DeCarlo, the former executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando who headed The Center in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, passed away after battling Stage 4 neck and face cancer. He was 56 years old.
DeCarlo’s husband, Bill Huelsman posted the news to DeCarlo’s Facebook page Jan. 28.
“This is Billy, It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to post this. But I need to let everyone know that I lost the love of my life last night. The cancer was just too aggressive for treatment,” Huelsman wrote.
DeCarlo’s passing comes less than four months after it was reported by the Orlando Sentinel that DeCarlo underwent a 10 and a half-hour surgery Oct. 15 to remove the bulk of a tumor and to rebuild his face and jaw. DeCarlo first saw symptoms in June when he went to his dentist because his mouth began to bleed profusely after he brushed. His dentist sent him to a doctor immediately. DeCarlo began radiation and then chemotherapy treatment after the surgery.
DeCarlo, as executive director of the LGBT+ Center in Orlando, was one of Central Florida’s LGBTQ leaders thrust into the national spotlight after the Pulse tragedy in June 2016. DeCarlo became The Center’s chief communications director in 2017 when George Wallace became the nonprofit’s new executive director. DeCarlo left Orlando in June 2018 to head back to South Florida where he lived prior to becoming The Center’s ED.
During his time in South Florida, DeCarlo worked at organizations such as Care Resource and the Broward House where he helped ensure healthcare, medication, shelter and all basic needs were met for those in the community who needed it. He was also an integral part of South Florida’s White Party, AIDS Walk Miami, Dining Out for Life and the Smart Ride.