William J. Larkin Jr.

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William J. Larkin Jr.
Senator Bill Larkin.jpg
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 39th district
In office
January 1, 1991 – December 31, 2018
Preceded byE. Arthur Gray
Succeeded byJames Skoufis
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 95th district
In office
January 1, 1983 – December 31, 1990
Preceded byEugene Levy
Succeeded byNancy Calhoun
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 97th district
In office
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1982
Preceded byLawrence Herbst
Succeeded byStephen Saland
Personal details
Born (1928-02-05) February 5, 1928 (age 93)
Troy, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 31, 2019(2019-08-31) (aged 91)
New Windsor, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Patricia Kurucz
ResidenceNew Windsor, New York
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1944–1967
RankLieutenant colonel
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsLegion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Commend. Medal (7)

William J. Larkin Jr. (February 5, 1928[1] – August 31, 2019) was an American politician from the Republican Party. He sat in the New York State Legislature for 40 years, representing various districts in the Hudson Valley. Larkin was a member of the State Assembly between 1979 and 1990, representing first the 97th and then the 95th Districts. He then sat in the State Senate from 1991 until his retirement in 2018, representing the 39th District. Before his career in state politics, Larkin had previously served as New Windsor town supervisor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Troy, New York, Larkin was raised by his aunt and uncle.[2] He graduated from La Salle Institute in Troy.[1][3]

Military service[edit]

Believing himself to be 18 years of age, Larkin enlisted in the United States Army as a private in 1944 at age 16.[2][clarification needed]

Larkin fought in the Pacific theater in World War II before entering officer candidate school and being sent to fight in the Korean War.[2] Larkin led an all-black unit during a period when the Armed Forces remained segregated.[2] He was evacuated from the Korean War in 1951 due to severe frostbite to his feet.[2] When Larkin retired from politics in 2018, he was the last serving New York state legislator to have fought in World War II.[4]

During his career in the Army, Larkin helped protect President John F. Kennedy on a visit to Berlin and met Martin Luther King Jr. when escorting one of the Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.[5] Larkin retired from the U.S. Army in 1967[6] as a Lieutenant Colonel;[2] he also received the Legion of Merit and seven Army Commendation Medals.[7]

Political career[edit]

Following his retirement from the Army, Larkin was hired as an executive assistant in the New York State Senate[8] and served a term as New Windsor town supervisor[2] before being elected to the New York State Assembly in 1978.[5] Larkin served in the Assembly from 1979 to 1990.[6] He was elected to the State Senate in 1990, defeating incumbent Democratic state senator E. Arthur Gray.[9] Larkin would go on to win 13 more two-year State Senate terms.[10] In the Senate, Larkin represented portions of Orange, Rockland, and Ulster Counties.[2]

Known for his advocacy for veterans, Larkin helped to create the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County, New York in 2006.[11] Larkin successfully urged the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp depicting the Purple Heart, and to later make it a "forever" stamp which continues to be in circulation despite price changes.[7] In October 2018, a Larkin-sponsored bill renaming the Bear Mountain Bridge was signed into law; the bridge was renamed the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge.[12] According to the Albany Times Union, Larkin "often shared anecdotes from his life experiences on the Senate floor".[11]

Larkin sponsored legislation that required Pulse Oximetry testing for all newborns.[11] He voted against same-sex marriage legislation in 2009 when the bill was defeated in the State Senate[13] and again in 2011 when it passed the Senate and became law.[14] In 2013, he voted against the gun control law known as the NY SAFE Act.[15] Larkin voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization in 2014.[16][17]

In May 2018, at the age of 90, Larkin announced that he would retire at year-end instead of seeking re-election.[18] At the time of his announcement, Larkin was the only World War II veteran remaining in the New York State Legislature.[18] In June 2018, U.S. News & World Report reported that Larkin was believed to be one of only two World War II veterans still serving in a U.S. state legislature; the other was State Senator Fred Risser of Wisconsin.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Larkin lived in the town of New Windsor, New York.[19] He was married to Patricia Kurucz Larkin.[3] He died on August 31, 2019,[20] and was survived by his wife and their eight children, 17 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.[11]


  1. ^ a b NY, New York (September 2, 1988). "The New York Red Book". Williams Press – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Press, Chris Carola Associated. "NY Sen. Bill Larkin wraps up 40-year career in state government". Daily Freeman.
  3. ^ a b "William J. Larkin, Jr". NY State Senate. May 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Retired State Senator Bill Larkin dies at 91 from the Hudson Valley Times
  5. ^ a b Mahoney, Bill (May 3, 2018). "Larkin announces retirement, creating fifth opening in Senate". Politico New York. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Carola, Chris (June 22, 2018). "Final Session for 90-Year-Old State Lawmaker and WWII Vet". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Coltin, Jeff (July 2, 2018). "William Larkin's honorable discharge". City & State New York. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "Senator Larkin Calls it Quits". NOW 97.7 FM.
  9. ^ Reynolds, Hugh. "Gray, former state senator, dies at 82". Daily Freeman.
  10. ^ McKenna, Chris. "Larkin expected to announce retirement Thursday". recordonline.com.
  11. ^ a b c d Stanforth, Lauren (September 1, 2019). "Former state Sen. Bill Larkin dies". Times Union.
  12. ^ "New bridge name alert: The Bear Mountain Bridge was just renamed". lohud.com.
  13. ^ December 2, Irene Jay Liu on; PM, 2009 at 2:41 (December 2, 2009). "Gay marriage defeated". Capitol Confidential.
  14. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy; June 24, Capitol bureau on; PM, 2011 at 10:35 (June 25, 2011). "Senate passes same-sex marriage, Cuomo makes it law". Capitol Confidential.
  15. ^ "Local reps vote 'no' on new gun law | The Warwick Advertiser". www.warwickadvertiser.com.
  16. ^ Waldman, Scott. "The day the State Senate approved medical marijuana". Politico PRO.
  17. ^ "Sen. Bill Larkin on medical marijuana:". lohud.com.
  18. ^ a b Mahoney, Bill. "Larkin announces retirement, creating fifth opening in Senate". Politico PRO.
  19. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Hogan, Bernadette; Campanile, Carl; Lapin, Tamar (September 1, 2019). "Longtime New York State Senator Bill Larkin dead at 91".

External links[edit]

New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Lawrence Herbst
New York State Assembly
97th District

Succeeded by
Stephen M. Saland
Preceded by
Eugene Levy
New York State Assembly
95th District

Succeeded by
Nancy Calhoun
New York State Senate
Preceded by
E. Arthur Gray
New York State Senate
39th District

Succeeded by
James Skoufis
Preceded by
Diane Savino
New York State Senate
Chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Pensions

Succeeded by
Martin Golden