By Philip Newman
William McCue, a New York state assistant attorney general, longtime Republican Party official and World War II veteran, died April 19. He was 91.
Among his survivors is Larisa, his wife of 67 years, who was a Russian prisoner of war when liberated from the Nazis by McCue’s U.S. Army unit near Dusseldorf, Germany, in the closing days of the European Theater in World War II.
McCue, who was born in Brooklyn, served as assistant attorney general from 1960-2006, defending the state of New York against all monetary claims. Each attorney general, regardless of political party, reappointed him to his assistant attorney general position.
Throughout most of his lifetime, McCue was active in the Republican Party, serving as county committeeman, and was the long-term president of the Queens County Republican Club.
Larisa Beresowskaja, the young woman McCue married, was a captive of the Nazis near Dusseldorf when they met as translators. She spoke Russian-German and McCue German-English.
McCue was a staff sergeant in the 774th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the U.S. 3rd Army, commanded by U.S. Maj. Gen. George Patton Jr. when the GIs swept into the town of Angermand outside Dusseldorf.
The need for translators was in part because of the processing of the thousands of what were termed displaced persons, such as Beresowskaja, who was 20. She was sent with thousands of other prisoners in cattle cars on a train from her home in Rostov-on-Don, USSR, to Germany where they were assigned to factories, farms and others places as slave laborers.
“I worked with Bill [her future husband] sometimes 18 hours translating,” Larisa McCue said.
“We were married six weeks after we met,” Larisa said, looking back on that turbulent time in 1945.
“We could not get married in Germany, so we joined a convoy of military vehicles going to Czechoslovakia for rest and recreation. They dressed me in a GI uniform and kept me out of sight as much as possible en route,” she said. “The military higher-ups did not know about this. Only Bill’s captain knew.”
Larisa McCue recalled that “it was not easy to find someone to marry us. Finally a priest agreed and we were married in a Catholic Church.”
She joined thousands of other war brides from Great Britain, France, Belgium and other countries en route to the United States, reuniting with McCue in New York.
“We lived in a cold water flat in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn for a time,” she said.
How did America contrast with war-torn Europe?
“So many of us were astonished at the plentiful food, which was not expensive, and no standing in line,” she said.
Having attended a teachers college in the USSR, she completed her college education at Queens College and taught at the Les Clochettes Nursery School in Bayside for 10 years.
Her husband was president of the Tyholland Civic Association in Bayside and a past commander of the Catholic War Veterans.
McCue is survived by daughters Larisa Anne Waloski and Mary Katherine Kaye, sons James McCue and William G. McCue, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Robert McCue.
His funeral was held at St. Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic Church and he was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Arrangements were handled by Martin Gleason Funeral Home in Bayside.