Angela G. DeCarlo, Loyola University Maryland student who aided the homeless and advocated peace and justice, dies

Angela G. DeCarlo, a Loyola University Maryland senior who was committed to peace and justice issues, died Nov. 4 at the University of Maryland Medical Center from liposarcoma, a rare cancer of connective tissues. She was 21.

She was described as vivacious and curious, the kind of “student you could only hope for,” said Elise L. Gower, associate director of programs for the Center for Community Service at Loyola. “When it came to academics [she] went above and beyond.”

Ms. Gower, a Perry Hall resident, had earlier taught Ms. DeCarlo at John Carroll School in Bel Air and said the young student “had a great attitude toward her schoolwork and was a joy to teach. She was a leader and role model to her peers.”

Natka Bianchini, a professor of theater in Loyola’s department of fine Arts, was a friend of Ms. DeCarlo’s and serves as dean for the Class of 2019, Ms. DeCarlo’s class.

“Angela was a really extraordinary person. She was diagnosed with cancer her sophomore year and while undergoing chemotherapy for the last two years, remained a full-time student,” said Dr. Bianchini, a Lutherville resident. “She was very determined, had a positive attitude and a zest for life.

“Angela was committed to her studies and would not take a medical leave,” Dr. Bianchini added. “She was a member of Loyola’s Honors Program — only about 40 are selected each year.”

Angela Grace DeCarlo was the daughter of Anthony DeCarlo and Claudia DeCarlo. She was born in Red Bank, N.J., and lived in Howell, N.J., before moving with her mother to Havre de Grace in 2011. Her father died from a brain tumor when she was 1 year old, her mother said.

“I remarried, and Brent Skinner, who was in the Army, became her adoptive father,” said her mother, a Bolton Hill resident. “When Angela was in the seventh and eighth grades, we lived in Japan and she loved it. That’s where I think she got her love of travel.”

While a student at John Carroll, Ms. DeCarlo joined a mission trip to the Dominican Republic that worked with Cambiando Vidas, an organization that advocates for universal access to food, shelter, clothing, education and opportunity.

“We went together and we helped build a house,” said Ms. Gower, who also was on the trip.

As a student at John Carroll, Ms. DeCarlo met and fell in love with Will H. Smith. He became her high school and college sweetheart.

“Angela was amazing. You don’t meet lots of people like her. She was so kind and a generally nice person,” said Mr. Smith, a senior mechanical engineering student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “She had a beautiful smile and was fun to be around. She was such a caring person and you could talk to her about anything.

“Angela had an amazing love for life, and she never lost it even during the toughest times. She was always looking toward the future,” said Mr. Smith, a Darlington resident.

After graduating from John Carroll in 2015, where she was a cheerleader and graduated fourth in her class, Ms. DeCarlo began her college studies at Loyola as a global studies major.

It was there that she and Ms. Gower reconnected. “It was a privilege having that link between high school and college and those experiences,” Ms. Gower said.

During her high school days Ms. DeCarlo had been a copy editor on the school paper, and after coming to Loyola, she joined the staff of The Greyhound, the college newspaper.

“She loved journalism but she resigned from the staff because she needed more time to focus on her schoolwork,” Mr. Smith said. “But the editor was still sending her stories for her to check and edit.”

Ms. DeCarlo was a member and campus outreach coordinator for the Peace & Justice Club, was a member of the Relay for Life committee and also volunteered at a homeless shelter.

“Angela wanted to work in the nonprofit sector after she graduated from Loyola. She was very concerned about such issues as poverty, homelessness, education and equality in Baltimore,” Mr. Smith said. “What bothered her the most when we were out driving was seeing homeless people. She’d say, ‘I want to help.’ ”

Ms. DeCarlo and her mother were active with the Ulman Cancer Fund. In the spring, the fund honored Ms. DeCarlo as Fighter of the Year at its annual banquet.

“All through her radiation and chemotherapy treatments she stayed on track with her schoolwork,” her mother said. “She’d take an Uber from school, take treatment, and then return to class.”

“She never doubted that she wouldn’t get well. She kept talking about getting past and being done with cancer,” Mr. Smith said. “She never talked about the end — even after she was told the chemo was no longer working. She viewed it as just another bump in the road and that she’d get over it.”

As her condition deteriorated, Ms. DeCarlo was hospitalized at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“She lived with grace and positivity, and that positivity affected people,” Ms. Gower said. “For her final days, people gathered. The room was always full.”

“The Loyola president went to the hospital and he made sure that the 50 students there had pizza and soda in the waiting room,” her mother said.

Ms. DeCarlo enjoyed reading and writing, and planned to help her mother restore her Bolton Hill rowhouse.

“She loved exploring Baltimore,” her mother said. “She wanted to live here and give back to the city.”

A celebration of Ms. DeCarlo’s life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Loyola’s Alumni Memorial Chapel, 4501 N. Charles St. She will be honored by her professors and classmates during Loyola’s graduation ceremony in May.

In addition to her mother and boyfriend, Ms. DeCarlo is survived by her stepfather, Lt. Col. Brent Skinner of Washington.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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