A LEGEND RETIRES
By Edie Johnson
After 40 years of service, Senator Bill Larkin announced as we go to press that he is retiring from politics. Larkin was surrounded by friends, family a gaggle of journalists and cameramen, and A Who’s Who of area politicians, who came to the Newburgh Armory for the announcement, including former New York Governor, George Pataki
Larkin’s voice crackled briefly with sadness as he began a touching goodbye with remembrances of 40 years of community accomplishments, including the work with Bill Kaplan to establish the very community center they were standing in. Pataki, who introduced Larkin called the Newburgh Unity Center “The Crown Jewel of Senator Larkin’s accomplishments”. He added that “There will never be another one like him in Orange County, “a Patriot and a Colonel in the military fighting in a combat unit in North Korea, he went on to serve in the as an Exeuctive Assistant to the NY Senate as well as serving as Supervisor of the Town of New Windsor. Not for a moment would anyone doubt his honesty and integrity. Over the years I’ve met hundreds of state representatives. Not one cared more or did more for the people he represented. Working with him on this Armory was one of the high points of my career. ”
With his sense of humor intact, Larkin acknowledged that there was some sadness in his departure from politics, but added “To be clear, my decision has nothing to do with some mythical blue wave that state Democrats have been wishing for.” Tongue-in-cheek, he is known for good bi-partisan negotiating. Larkin, making a point of directing his speech to every person in the room, smiled broadly as he recalled the Armory activities of last weekend. “How lucky am I to have worked with all the people in this room. Can you imagine, there were 500 kids here playing chess (along with other activities). He continued, “It’s all about ‘How can I join you and be part of the community. There is no ‘I’ in “TEAM”. His team members emphasize that while he obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in grant monies, it was always with an eye toward making sure the money would benefit the people, the regular citizens that he worked for.
Larkin called on his staff to stand, and introduced them as “The Extended Larkin Family”. He honored his team’s work saying “They work tirelessly to make it look like I have done something.”
Recounting just a few of the top accomplishments in his 4-decade years of service, Larkin said “West Point is just down the road. I want to add to their mantra of Duty, Service, Country, one more thing. That is “Respect.” Larkin was also instrumental in the establishment of the SUNY Orange Newburgh campus, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, the Purple Heart Forever Stamp among dozens of other significant gifts to the community.
Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois summed up many of the comments of others saying “Senator Bill Larkin is the best public service has to offer. From his honorable and lengthy military service to his ascension and longevity as a New York State Senator with the most seniority. Devotion to his soldiers and country has never wavered. Senator Larkin applies that same devotion to his district constituents, dedicating himself to help and enhance their lives. No one can fill Larkin’s shows.”
While the day started with conversations about his accomplishments and forthcoming retirement from politics, it would seem the work of Bill Larkin is not done. His colleagues warned “We have plenty of work that we still need your help with.” Pataki echoed those words finishing with “I can’t wait to hear your next crazy idea, and by golly I’ll be there to help out.