Famed East End attorney Tom Twomey dies at 68

Tom Twomey. (Credit: Steve Latham courtesy photo)

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

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

That same decade, Mr. Twomey formed a South Fork civic organization called “Halt the Highway” to rail against a proposed extension of Sunrise Highway from Shinnecock Hills to Amagansett.
Mr. Twomey’s wife of 34 years, Judith Hope, is a former East Hampton town supervisor. She also served as chairwoman for the New York State Democratic Committee.

Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said he was shocked by 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 Jamesport was one of the few times 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 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 still located.

The firm, now called 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 great political influence on the state and national level and counted former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, as friends, Mr. Latham said.
In 1993, he was appointed chairman of former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s East End Economic and Environmental Institute, which was instrumental in extending farmland preservation efforts statewide and boosting East End tourism and its wine industry, 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 was also passionate about the history of the East End — particularly 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. In addition, Mr. Twomey was a distant relative of the infamous pirate Captain Kidd and even collaborated on a screenplay about him with author Tom Clavin.

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

Visitation will take place Friday, Nov. 21, at Yardley Pine Funeral Home in East Hampton from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Services will be held Saturday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton. A reception will follow at East Hampton Point. For more information, call Janice Olsen at 727-2180.

Donations in Mr. Twomey’s name to the East Hampton Library would be appreciated.

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