Longtime NY lawmaker, WWII veteran dies at 91

FILE - In this photo, Sen. William Larkin Jr., R-New Windsor, left, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, center, and Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, appear at a news conference. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

NEW YORK (AP) - Former state Sen. Bill Larkin, a World War II veteran who served as a state lawmaker in New York for four decades, died Saturday. He was 91.

His family announced the death Sunday, calling Larkin a "dedicated public servant, soldier and statesman."

Larkin represented a stretch of the Hudson Valley as an assemblyman from 1979 to 1990 and then as a state senator until his retirement last year.

A Republican, he was known for forging bipartisan friendships in Albany and advancing veterans' causes and health care for infants.

"He lived a storied and authentically American life," Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said in a statement.

William J. "Bill" Larkin Jr. was born in Troy, New York, and was raised by his aunt and uncle. He thought he was 18 when, while still in high school, he enlisted in the Army in 1944.

It wasn't until years later that he discovered he was born in 1928, not 1926, as he had always believed.

"I wasn't upset," Larkin recalled last year. "I was in the armed forces. I met with people who cared about our country, and I was very proud."

Larkin served in the Pacific during WWII, where he saw combat in the Philippines, and also later fought in the Korean War, where he had to be evacuated in early 1951 after suffering severe frostbite to his feet.

After retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1967, Larkin entered politics by getting elected supervisor of the town of New Windsor, near West Point. He was first elected to the state Assembly in 1978.

Larkin is survived by his wife, eight children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.