Noted East End attorney Tom Twomey dies at 68

11/18/2014 8:00 AM |

Tom Twomey. (Credit: Steve Latham courtesy photo)

Tom Twomey, the founder and senior partner of the largest law firm on the East End, as well as an influential figure in politics, died suddenly at his home in East Hampton on Sunday. He was 68.

As an attorney, Mr. Twomey led the fight against the Long Island Lighting Company’s proposal to build four nuclear power plants in Jamesport in 1977 while he worked for the Long Island Farm Bureau. In 1975, he played an instrumental role in getting Suffolk County to create its landmark Farmland Preservation Program.

Mr. Twomey also organized a civic organization on the South Fork called “Halt the Highway,” which led the fight against a proposed extension of Sunrise Highway from Shinnecock Hills to Amagansett in the 1970s.

His wife of 34 years, Judith Hope, is a former East Hampton Town Supervisor. She had also served as chairwoman for the New York State Democratic Committee.

Joe Gergela, the executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said he was “in shock” by the news of Mr. Twomey’s passing.

“Tom’s been counsel to the farm bureau my entire stay here, which is 26 years,” Mr. Gergela said. “He’s a tremendous personal friend, advisor, mentor, and strategist. He was just a tremendously talented wonderful man.”

Mr. Gergela said the victory against LILCO’s plan to build nuclear power plants in the Jamesport was one of the few times that a power company lost a court battle.

Mr. Twomey’s law partner of 26 years, Steve Latham, described Mr. Twomey as being in fine health and said he unexpectedly died of a heart attack Sunday morning.

He said Mr. Twomey “was a one-man operation when I came out here, so I doubled the size of the firm when I joined, which is amazing to think about when you look at the size of the firm now.”

In 1973, Mr. Twomey moved to East Hampton and established his law office in Riverhead, where it’s currently located.

The firm, now known as Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo LLP, currently has 28 attorneys and 55 employees, according to its website.

“Tom was really a mentor and even a father figure to me, even though we’re only four years apart in age,” Mr. Latham said. “You never realize how much you’re going to miss someone until they’re gone.”

Mr. Twomey had a great political influence on state and national levels, and included former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, among his friends, Mr. Latham said.

He was also appointed as chairman of former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s East End Economic and Environmental Institute in 1993, which was instrumental in extending farmland preservation efforts statewide and boosting the East End tourism and wine industries, Mr. Latham said.

Mr. Twomey was the son of a New York City police detective and spent summers vacationing with his family in Mattituck, according to an obituary provided by Mr. Latham with the approval of Mr. Twomey’s family.

He also had a passion for the history of the East End, and in particular, East Hampton Town, where he was named town historian and helped lead the town’s celebration of its 350th anniversary in 1998.

Mr. Twomey also served as president of the East Hampton Library board and served on the executive committee of the Guild Hall Cultural Center in East Hampton.

He owned a plane, was a pilot for more than 40 years, and also owned and restored a 1928 Flint Depot Hack automobile. Mr. Twomey was also a distant relative of the famous pirate, Captain Kidd, and even collaborated on a screenplay about the pirate with author Tom Clavin.

Mr. Twomey, who was born on Dec. 8, 1945,  is survived by his wife and stepchildren, Misse and Erling Hope; three grandchildren, Soren Hope, Isaiah Aqui and Henry Luka Hope, and by his sisters, Mary Claire Vrtodusic of Oakdale, and Florence Cope of East Marion.

Services will be held on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 18 James Lane in East Hampton and a reception will follow at East Hampton Point, located at 295 Three Mile Harbor Road-Hog Creek Road. Visitation will take place on Friday at Yardley Pine Funeral Hom, located at 94 Pantigo Road in East Hampton from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.

For further information, call Janice Olsen at 727-2180.

Donations can be sent in Mr. Twomey’s name to the East Hampton Library.

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