Home Government Former New York state Sen. Bill Larkin dies at 91

Former New York state Sen. Bill Larkin dies at 91

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William J. “Bill” Larkin Jr., a decorated combat veteran who spent 40 years representing the Hudson Valley in the New York state legislature, died on Sept. 1 at the age of 91.

Bill Larkin
Larkin

Born in Troy, Larkin enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private in 1944 – he believed he was 18, but later discovered he was actually 16. He served in the Pacific during World War II and entered Officer Candidate School after the war ended. He led an all-black unit in the last years before the U.S. military was desegregated, and later served in the Korean War. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1967 as a lieutenant colonel and earned the Legion of Merit, seven Army Commendation Medals, one Battle Star for the Philippines and six Battle Stars for the Korean War during his military career.

Larkin, a Republican, began his political career in a single term as New Windsor town supervisor before being elected to the state Assembly in 1978. In 1990, he was elected to the state Senate, representing sections of Rockland, Orange and Ulster counties, and would win 13 additional elections before retiring in 2018.

Larkin was best known during his Albany years for advocating the creation of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor and successfully petitioning the U.S. Postal Service to issue a “forever” stamp honoring the Purple Heart. Last October, he sponsored legislation that renamed the Bear Mountain Bridge as the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge. Larkin’s legislative record also included sponsoring legislation that required Pulse Oximetry testing for all newborns and successfully working for the creation of the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, a community center for children and adults. By the time of his retirement, he received a 79% approval rating from the Business Council of New York State.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised Larkin’s career of public service. “Senator Larkin led by example every day of his life and was an inspiration to me and countless others who wanted nothing more than to serve the people of this great state and nation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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Phil Hall's writing for Westfair Communications has earned multiple awards from the Connecticut Press Club and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists. He is a former United Nations-based reporter for Fairchild Broadcast News and the author of 10 books (including the 2020 release "Moby Dick: The Radio Play" and the upcoming "Jesus Christ Movie Star," both published by BearManor Media). He is also the host of the SoundCloud podcast "The Online Movie Show," co-host of the WAPJ-FM talk show "Nutmeg Chatter" and a writer with credits in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, Wired, The Hill's Congress Blog, Profit Confidential, The MReport and StockNews.com. Outside of journalism, he is also a horror movie actor - usually playing the creepy villain who gets badly killed at the end of each film.

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