Former President Bill Clinton and former Sec. of State Hillary...

Former President Bill Clinton and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton arrive at the East Hampton Airport on Nov. 22, 2014 for a funeral. Credit: Doug Kuntz

Hillary Rodham Clinton eulogized prominent environmental lawyer Thomas A. Twomey Jr. at his funeral in East Hampton on Saturday, recalling how he helped her connect with everyday Long Islanders and win her Senate seat from New York in 2000.

"He said to me, 'You need to meet real people, those who built this state and also East Hampton,' " Clinton, who attended the afternoon service with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, told a crowd of more than 600 mourners at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The former first lady and secretary of state, who is weighing a second try for the White House in 2016, said she met Twomey in the mid-1990s. He took her to spend time with the North Fork farmers who helped him in a successful 1977 bid to stop nuclear power plants from being built in Jamesport, she said.

"What really impressed me was these people had families going back 10 to 12 generations, and I learned how their grandparents and great-grandparents had loved and cherished this place," Hillary Clinton said. "It made a great impression on me."

The Clintons are longtime friends of Twomey and his wife, Judith Hope, the former state Democratic chairwoman, former appointments secretary to Gov. Hugh Carey, the first female East Hampton town supervisor and a native of Arkansas.

"The first thing Tom Twomey said to me [when they met] was, 'We have something in common, we both married someone from Arkansas,' " Clinton said.

Together, Twomey and Hope -- like the Clintons -- were a longtime political power couple, and also fundraisers with statewide and national connections.

During his legal career over more than four decades, Twomey built the East End's largest law firm -- Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin, Quartararo -- with 28 lawyers based in Riverhead. He also served as legal counsel to numerous local municipal boards and worked as a lawyer for the Long Island Farm Bureau.

Twomey's efforts to help farmers and stop nuclear plant construction, Clinton said, "made me think about how Tom took on responsibility in his own community, which is something purely American.

"He understood that we are individuals but we are also members of communities," she added.

Before her eulogy, Clinton sat in the front row between her husband and Hope. When the service was over, the Clintons chatted with mourners for about a half-hour about topics such as President Barack Obama, immigration and Hillary Clinton's potential presidential run.

Throughout their long friendship, Clinton said in her eulogy, Twomey taught her valuable political lessons.

"He knew how to find common ground," Clinton said. "But he also knew how to stand his ground."

With Kevin Deutsch

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