Thomas A. Twomey, Jr., Senior Partner and founder of the largest law firm on the East End of Long Island, died suddenly at his home on Two Holes of Water Road in East Hampton on Sunday morning, November 16, 2014. He was 68 years old.
The son of a New York City Police Detective, Tom's love of Eastern Long Island began with summers spent vacationing with his family in Mattituck. A graduate of Manhattan College, Tom put himself through University of Virginia and Columbia Law Schools selling kitchen knives, one of the first examples of his business acumen.
Tom arrived in East Hampton in 1973 after a year of adventure and travel around the world. Among his more memorable experiences was being chased by an African elephant in his rented Volkswagen Beetle.
Although Tom settled and made his home in East Hampton for over 40 years, he decided to establish his law firm in Riverhead, so that it would become a firm for the entire region. Tom divided the early years of his legal career between building his private practice, acting as counsel to local municipal boards and spear-heading numerous local, County and Statewide public interest efforts.
Tom was among the first to recognize the severe limitations on traffic posed by the geography of the East End and shortly after he set up his practice, he organized a civic organization, Halt The Highway, and led the fight to prevent the proposed extension of the Sunrise Highway from Shinnecock Hills to Amagansett. Many of the thousands of acres which would have been used for the proposed highway have now been protected by public acquisition, or through low-density zoning, in order to preserve Eastern Long Island's sole source aquifer.
In 1975, working with County Legislator Joyce Burland and other local activists, Tom convinced the Suffolk County Legislature to pass the landmark Farmland Preservation Program. In later years, as the Chairman of Governor Cuomo's East End Economic and Environmental Institute, Tom was instrumental in extending farmland preservation through all of New York State with the passage of the New York State Farmland Preservation Program. His other accomplishments on that Commission included increased State support for the local tourist and wine industries as well as the recreational needs of the East End.
In 1977, Tom was retained by a group of local farmers to oppose the Long Island Lighting Company's proposal to build four nuclear power plants in Jamesport, on the North Fork. Tom built a broad, Statewide coalition of environmental, civic and political groups in opposition to the Jamesport plants and ultimately to the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, all of which were defeated.
Tom had a great passion for the history of Eastern Long Island, particularly the Town of East Hampton. His leadership role in East Hampton's 350th Anniversary Celebration resulted in his being named Town Historian. In that capacity, he edited five volumes on the history of East Hampton, all of which were published through private donations. A sixth volume is to be published soon.
Tom was a leading supporter of many East Hampton charitable and public institutions. He served numerous terms as the President of the East Hampton Library. In 1997, as Chair of the Library's Capital Campaign Committee, he helped raise $3.6 million to renovate and restore the Library. More recently, Tom chaired the Library's Capital Campaign to construct a Children's wing at the East Hampton Library, which was successfully completed in 2014. Tom served on the Executive Committee of the Guild Hall Cultural Center and was actively involved in raising funds each year for Guild Hall's annual operating budget.
Tom had many avocations, including owning and piloting his own plane for more than 40 years. When speed wasn't an issue, he could be seen driving to the hardware store in his perfectly restored 1928 Flint Depot Hack. Upon learning that he was a distant relative of a reputed pirate from Eastern Long Island, Tom spent his Sunday afternoons writing, in collaboration with Tom Clavin, a full-length screenplay about the pirate, Captain Kidd, which has garnered two prestigious screenwriting awards and is being circulated for production.
Tom is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judith Hope, who served three terms as East Hampton Supervisor from 1974-1975 and again in 1984-1987; by his stepchildren Nisse and Erling Hope; three grandchildren, Soren Hope, Isaiah Aqui and Henry Luka Hope; and by his sisters, Mary Claire Vrtodusic of Oakdale, New York and Florence Cope of East Marion, New York.