2018 Grand Marshal: New York State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr.
The Cornwall Independence Day Committee has chosen New York State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr., as the Grand Marshal of the 2018 parade in honor of his many years of service to his community, his state and his country. Senator Larkin is retiring at the end of 2018.
Bill has been serving others for over 70 years. His life of service began at the age of 16 as a combat veteran of World War II, in New Guinea and in the Philippines operation. Later he served in combat in Korea and eventually served more than 23 years in the United States Army beginning as a private and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Bill had the honor of being appointed Army Project Officer for the visit of President John F. Kennedy during his trip to Germany in 1963 and later he guarded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. During his military service, Bill received the Legion of Merit and seven Army Commendation Medals; he was awarded one Battle Star for the Philippines and six Battle Stars for the Korean War.
Bill has served for over 40 years in the New York State Legislature, having served in the assembly from 1979-1990 and in senate since 1990, prior to that he served as an Executive Assistant in the New York State Senate. He served as Supervisor of the Town of New Windsor in 1976-77.
Over these last four decades, Bill has passed many pieces of landmark legislation. He led the charge on legislation that was recognized as the greatest veterans’ reform package since WWII. Bill sponsored legislation that required Pulse Oximetry testing on all newborns. This legislation has been credited for saving countless newborns throughout New York. The American Heart Association named him Legislator of the Year for his leadership in passing this bill. When important issues come up, the senate has always depended on Bill for his expertise, enthusiasm and his ability to produce results.
For his outstanding service to his community, state and country, Mount Saint Mary College awarded Bill an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. The United States Army awarded him its highest civilian award, the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, in recognition of his tireless service on behalf of veterans and substantial contribution to the accomplishments of the Army’s mission. In addition, the New York State Senate awarded Bill the first New York State Senate Veterans Leadership Award for his work on behalf of New York’s veterans.
Widely recognized among his colleagues both in New York and nationally for his vast knowledge and expertise about the insurance industry, Bill was elected president of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in 2001. NCOIL is a bipartisan organization of State Legislators from the 50 states whose primary area of public policy is insurance. In 2002, Bill was named one of the “100 Most Powerful People in the Insurance Industry-North America”.
Bill has always strived not just to be a leader in government but also a leader in his community. That is why some of his greatest accomplishments have been the product of his ability to deliver capital funding to municipalities, school districts and nonprofit organizations. Whether it was a highway project, a bridge repair, a bandstand to revitalize the downtown of a community or a new dump truck, Bill has been rebuilding the infrastructure of the Hudson Valley for the last 40 years. It was through his leadership that investments were made in Orange Regional Medical Center and nearly $40 million dollars was secured to build a SUNY Orange campus in the City of Newburgh. Purchasing the Newburgh Armory Unity Center for $1 and working with Bill Kaplan to revitalize it through creative programming will change lives for generations to come. Bill is a member of the Genesis Group, which founded the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor located in New Wind- sor. Bill also started the campaign to create the Purple Heart Forever Stamp. These efforts took over a decade to complete and would not have been possible without Bill’s unwavering tenacity and patriotism.
By far, Bill’s most important job has been that of a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Bill is married to Patricia Kurucz Larkin and between them, they have eight children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Bill’s record of service will shine brightly as an example for future public servants for years to come.
Past Grand Marshals (since 1990)
2015 – Eileen Zwart (teacher)
2014 – Belding and Doris Jones Clearwater (Jones Farm)
2013 – Betty and Chic Jurgens (community servants)
2012 – Harry Houlis (CIDC, former chair, longtime member)
2011 – Aisling Cuffe (outstanding long distance runner and scholar)
2010 – Glen McGinnis (teacher and coach)
2009 – Andy and Jean Maroney (community servants)
2008 – Jimmy Kent: Little League coach, town recreation director
2007 – Anna Vandermark – Cornwall high school guidance counselor
2006 – Jeanne Theis – Cornwall Teacher & Administrator (posthumously)
2005 – The Schempf Family - Cornwall Musicians and Music Teachers
2004 – Afghanistan/Iraq Armed Forces, Cornwall’s Lt. Gen. David Petraeus
2003 – Walter Koch – Cornwall Boy Scout Leader
2002 – Ken Kumpel – Cornwall NYC Fireman (posthumously)
2001 – Winnie Swenson – Businesswoman and Community Mother
2000 – Rev. Dick Mills – Cornwall Presbyterian Pastor
1999 – Jim McEnery – Cornwall Teacher
1998 – None (candidates declined)
1997 – Vincent J. Connolly – CIDC co-founder (posthumously)
1996 – John F. Gould – Cornwall Artist (posthumously)
1995 – Curt Remfrey – Cornwall Little League Official
1994 – Loraine Donahue – CIDC Co-founder
1993 – Eileen DeFreest – Cornwall Teacher
1992 – Rev. Herman Badecker – St. John’s Episcopal Pastor
1991 – War Veterans
1990 – Ed Doty & Pete Ransom – Cornwall Little League Officials