Retired State Senator Bill Larkin, whose distinguished political career spanned nearly half a century, died Saturday at the age of 91.
His death was announced Sunday afternoon by his family.
“It is with a heavy but full heart that we announce our beloved Bill Larkin has passed away,” read a statement released by former Aide Brian Maher. “America and the State of New York have lost a dedicated public servant, soldier and statesman. Our family lost a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and so much more. We appreciate your thoughts, prayers and best wishes. It is our hope that all of the people whose lives Bill touched in some way over the years will join us in celebrating his life over the coming days.”
Larkin, who retired from public office on Dec. 31, 2018, had the distinction of being the last World War II veteran to serve in the New York State Legislature.
Larkin represented the 39th District in the New York State Senate from 1991 until his retirement in 2018; the district includes the Towns of Plattekill and Marlborough in Ulster County, eastern and central Orange County, and a small portion of northern Rockland County. He previously served as New Windsor town supervisor and as a member of the New York State Assembly.
“Senator Bill Larkin committed his life to serving his community and his country with valor and integrity. For decades he fought for his constituents, including those in Ulster County,” said Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan. “He was a committed public servant who represented his district, state and country with honor and will be sincerely missed. On behalf of Ulster County, I send my deepest condolences to the Larkin family.”
Marlborough Town Supervisor Al Lanzetta, echoed Ryan’s thoughts.
“I am so sorry to hear of the passing of our good friend, Senator Larkin,” Lanzetta wrote on Facebook. “He was the perfect example of what a life devoted to public service looks like. I am going to miss him.”
His senate successor, James Skoufis, offered these thoughts on Sunday afternoon:
“Foremost, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Senator Larkin’s family, especially his beloved wife, Pat. He cherished his family above all else and would occasionally remind me, ‘happy wife, happy life,’ a reflection of his devotion and admiration for Pat. I’m deeply saddened for their loss.”
“World War II and Korean War veteran; New Windsor Supervisor; state Assemblyman; and state Senator, Bill Larkin’s lifetime of service and unwavering dedication to our country will live on as an inspiration. May his memory be a blessing to the countless lives he touched.”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted out his condolences Sunday afternoon:
“He was an advocate for all veterans, champion for the Hudson Valley and will be deeply missed,” Schumer tweeted. “My thoughts are with his family.”
Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa added his condolences.
“As a veteran, Senator Larkin served his country and served his community as a public servant,” Figueroa said. “ He was an true supporter of law enforcement and first responders, as well as the military forces stationed at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Orange County. He will be truly missed.”
Larkin served on countless committees during his time in the Assembly and Senate including Finance, Rules and Health. In the Assembly he served as Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore and in the State Senate served as Majority Whip and Deputy Majority Leader of House Operations.
- Delivered millions in capital funding for projects and infrastructure investments that have been shaping communities in the Hudson Valley for the past 40 years in parts of Orange, Ulster, Rockland and Sullivan counties:
- More than $10 million to build, maintain and enhance the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
- Secured over $2 million in funding for the Newburgh Armory Unity Center to ensure its adaptive re-use.
- Secured tens of millions over the last four decades to support local municipalities, nonprofit organizations and businesses looking to create jobs and provide workforce development training. Funding secured for these projects helped to ensure that local leaders avoided raising taxes on their own residents to pay for costly infrastructure improvements.
Larkin has received countless awards for local nonprofit organizations, businesses and community leaders for his steadfast service to his community.
Mount St. Mary College awarded Larkin an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his outstanding service to his community, state and country.
In 2014, the United States Army presented Larkin with its highest civilian award, the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, in recognition for his decades of services on behalf of veterans.
He is survived by his wife Patricia Kurucz Larkin and between them; they have eight children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4 at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center in the William and Pat Larkin Education Center, 321 S. William Street, Newburgh, NY under the direction of Quigley-Sullivan Funeral Home of Cornwall-On-Hudson. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 5 at St. Thomas of Canterbury, 340 Hudson Street, Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties and Nora Cronin Presentation Academy.