Senator William J. Larkin – A Life Of Honor
Photos of Bill Larkin With Friends in the Valley
Condolences and accolades poured in on Sunday as soon as word spread of Senator Bill Larkin’s passing, at the age of 91. By 4 pm on Wednesday, lines at the entrance to their wing at Newburgh Armory Unity Center began to grow. Within 2 hours thousands had stopped and given their respects, and saw the photos an medals of a life both incredibly strong in accomplishments and loved by thousands for his humility and generosity. Photo after photo of his life as a senator show him leading the way for newcomers in government and offering funding for the important needs of the people in the Hudson Valley. And every time he presented the checks he emphasized that “We work for YOU”, and that the money “belongs to the people”.
Senator Larkin was especially loved in the City of Newburgh, and particularly at the Armory where he participated in many events and always to uplift the City and make it better. The Armory itself was a major accomplishment of his with philanthropist Bill Kaplan as it offers space for athletics, education and a host of social programs. It was very fitting for his wake to be held there. He would undoubtedly approve.
His accomplishments were far too many to enumerate, but here are some of the highlights:
Below please find some highlights of Senator Larkin’s historic record of service:
- He was a member of the Genesis Group, that established the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, honoring the memory and service of nearly 2 million Purple Heart recipients across America
- Passed the most sweeping veterans legislation in more than 30 years. The new laws increased the financial protections for families of U.S. service members.
- Sponsored and fought to have the Veterans Equality Act passed allowing ALL veterans to buy back up to three years of time while they were serving our country. Senator Larkin kept pushing this legislation and was unwavering in his support despite it being passed and vetoed two years in a row before eventually being signed by the Governor.
- Spearheaded the passage of the Compassionate Care Act, legalizing medicinal marijuana in New York State. This effort gained support after Senator Larkin raised the issue of how this treatment could help suffering children and veterans experiencing PTSD.
- Appointed to NYS Senate Heroin & Opioid Task Force, hosted public hearings which provided feedback from local experts and stakeholders leading to meaningful legislative action to address the epidemic head on.
- An ardent supporter of sportsman and the second amendment, voting against the New York State Safe Act and instead promoted common sense legislation and funding that would both protect our community and keep our schools safe.
- Senator 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.
- Sponsored and passed legislation that required Pulse Oximetry testing on all newborns. This legislation has been credited for saving the lives of countless newborns throughout the State of New York. Senator Larkin was named “Legislator of the Year” by the American Heart Association for his work.
- 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:
- $40 million to establish SUNY Orange Campus in Newburgh.
- More than $10 million to build, maintain and enhance the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
- More than $100 million to support St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.
- $1 million to refurbish existing education buildings on the campus of Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh.
- 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.
- When representing the City of Middletown, helped to establish the eventual home of Orange Regional Medical Center and advocated for the funding needed to ensure it exists today.
- Widely recognized by his colleagues both in New York State and nationally for his vast knowledge and expertise concerning the insurance industry, Senator Larkin was elected in 2001 as President of the Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and headed this group for one year. In December, 2002, Senator Larkin was named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in the Insurance Industry in North America.”
- Launched the successful campaign to create the Purple Heart Forever Stamp, a process than took more than 10 years to complete.
- Bought the Newburgh Armory Unity Center for $1. Today nearly 100,000 children visit the Armory annually and take advantage of countless educational opportunities.
- Senator 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 Senator 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 Senator Larkin with its highest civilian award, the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, in recognition for his decades of services on behalf of veterans.
- By far, Senator Larkin’s most important job is that of husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Between them, Senator Larkin and his wife Patricia have eight children, seventeen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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