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.”
Locally, flags were lowered to half staff in his memory.
“Senator Larkin is an American hero but he is also a hero to the Village of Walden,” said Walden Mayor Susan Rumbold. “We will never forget all of his contributions to our community and will do our best to continue his incredible legacy of service. Lowering our flags to half mast is the least we can do to show our appreciation and admiration.”
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.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved Senator Larkin. Rain or shine Senator Larkin served his country, New York State and our community; especially the Town of Montgomery and its three Villages,” Montgomery Town Supervisor Rod Winchell said. “I will always remember Senator Larkin in many positive ways-with a big smile, a great sense of humor and always with a great story”.
“My deepest sympathy to the Larkin Family for such a tremendous loss. Godspeed Senator.”
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.”
During his time in Albany, Larkin was credited with providing 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:
“Senator Larkin has brought back millions to the Towns of Montgomery, Crawford and dozens of communities throughout the Hudson Valley,” said Maher, a former Walden mayor who spent six years on Larkin’s senate staff.
A breakdown of his recent contributions to the Wallkill Valley communities includes:
Village of Walden Police Department - $10,000 for equipment
Village of Maybrook Police Department - $25,000 for equipment
Village of Montgomery Police Department - $10,000 for equipment
Town of Montgomery Police Department - $10,000 for equipment
Village of Walden -
$50,000 - Pavillion at Bradley Park
$150,000 - Marcus Millspaugh Boat Launch
$300,000 - Community Center
Village of Montgomery -
$50,000 - for outdoor cardiovascular equipment at veterans memorial park
$150,000 - for capital improvements
Village of Maybrook -
$100,000 - sidewalk project
$100,000 - sidewalk project
Town of Montgomery -
$50,000 - pavillion at Benedict Park
$150,000 - Town Hall/Police Department Improvements
“Senator William J. Larkin Jr. lived a wonderful life,” wrote Maybrook Mayor Dennis Leahy in a Facebook post. “His dedication to his constituents and his service to our country will always be remembered. Deepest sympathy to the Larkin family and may he rest in peace.”
In 2014, the United States Army presented Senator 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.