Tom Twomey died suddenly at his home in East Hampton of a heart attack on Sunday, November 16. He was 68.
Twomey was one of the two or three most prominent lawyers on the East End, and people could go to him knowing he would defend them with passion, honesty and great knowledge. The firm he founded in 1973, now known as Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo LLP, is an East End partnership with more than two dozen lawyers. They are staggered by this sudden loss, as are many of us in the business community, as well as family and friends.
Twomey often took on public interest issues, sometimes acting not only in his legal capacity but also in his personal capacity. He felt very strongly, for example, that historic documents involving the East End should remain on the East End. When he saw a 17th century map of this area going up for sale at a New York City auction house, he called on me to help raise the money to successfully buy it for the local East Hampton Library. Then he joined the board of the library. Then he became president of the library and oversaw two beautiful expansions of the library.
Years earlier, when our power company was proposing to build four nuclear plants in Jamesport, Twomey organized farmers into protesting by bringing dozens of their tractors and farm animals to the parking lot of a Riverhead motel where a licensing hearing was taking place. He lent his legal expertise in the creation of a Suffolk County farmland preservation program, in the fight to stop the building of a nuclear plant in Shoreham.
He was chairman of the East End Economic and Environmental Institute, he was on the executive committee of Guild Hall. He founded the group “Halt the Highway,” which successfully stopped the state from extending the Sunrise Highway from Shinnecock Hills to Amagansett. He also served on state agencies such as the Wetlands Appeals Board, the Long Island Power Authority and the Energy Council. He helped raise many millions of dollars for numerous groups. He was also the East Hampton Town historian for a number of years.
He was one of the most personable, upbeat and interesting people I ever met. And he’d often find a way that others might join him in one or another of the many civic projects he was interested in. For example, at the time of his death, he was working on a movie script with author Tom Clavin about treasure buried on Gardiner’s Island. He’d come upon documents indicating Captain Kidd was not hanged in London as believed, but had survived and lived quietly for years afterward his reported death. He and Clavin have a signature of Kidd’s on a document signed long after he was supposedly hung.
Tom Twomey was born in Manhattan and raised in Queens, the son of a New York City police detective. His first contact with the East End was as a boy when he vacationed in Mattituck with his parents. He graduated Manhattan College, then studied law at the University of Virginia and got his law degree at Columbia Law. He was married for almost 35 years—their anniversary would have been in two weeks—to Judith Hope, who served three terms as East Hampton Town supervisor beginning in 1974 and, who after his passing, described Tom as “the most wonderful man I ever knew in my life.” He is survived by her, his stepchildren, Nisse Hope of East Hampton and Erling Hope of Sag Harbor, and three grandchildren, Soren, Isaiah and Henry.
His passing is a great loss to this community.