Thomas A. Twomey Jr., a leading East End environmental lawyer...

Thomas A. Twomey Jr., a leading East End environmental lawyer who fought to preserve farmland and successfully battled both LILCO's Jamesport nuclear power plant and state plans to extend Sunrise Highway, died of a heart attack at his East Hampton home. He was 68.

Thomas A. Twomey Jr., a leading East End environmental lawyer who fought to preserve farmland and successfully battled both LILCO's Jamesport nuclear power plant and state plans to extend Sunrise Highway, died of a heart attack Sunday at his East Hampton home. He was 68.

Twomey, during his more than four-decadelong legal career, 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.

"Tom was a doer," said Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor). "He was never elected to anything, he was never a party leader, but over the last 30 years he had as much influence on politics and environmental policy on the East End as any elected official."

Twomey and his wife, Judith Hope -- former state Democratic leader, former appointments secretary to Gov. Hugh Carey and the first female East Hampton town supervisor -- were a longtime political power couple and fundraisers with statewide and national connections. Among there were former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I'm devastated," said Joseph Gergela, the farm bureau's executive director. "He was a major player in protecting the farmland . . . and he always looked out for us."

Gergela also said Twomey was a crucial adviser keeping onerous regulation from hurting the agriculture community. "His forte was strategy -- how to fight or fix a problem," Gergela said. "And he always cautioned us about using the court system because we didn't have a lot of resources. He said it was often better to try to amend the law."

Twomey's first public battle came shortly after he moved to East Hampton in 1973 with the creation of a local civic group, Halt the Highway. It stopped a state plan to extend Sunrise Highway through Shinnecock Hills to Amagansett, land that now has largely been protected through low-density zoning.

In 1975, Twomey also pressed the Suffolk Legislature to authorize the county's farmland preservation program, which has saved 10,500 acres in agriculture. Later, working with then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, he helped establish a state farmland preservation law.

In 1977, Twomey was retained by farmers to battle a Long Island Lighting Co. plan to build four nuclear power plants in Jamesport. Twomey built an upstate-downstate coalition that thwarted the project.

Twomey ran a losing race for Congress in 1980.

Son of an NYPD detective, Twomey first came to love Long Island vacationing in Mattituck with his family as a youngster. A graduate of Manhattan College, Twomey put himself through the University of Virginia and Columbia University law schools by selling kitchen knives.

He moved to East Hampton after traveling the world, including being chased by an elephant in Africa while in a Volkswagen. Twomey had far-flung interests -- he was a pilot for more than 40 years and could be seen locally driving a perfectly restored 1928 Flint Depot Hack. He also co-wrote an award-winning film script about Captain Kidd -- whom Twomey said was a distant relation -- which has been circulated for production.

He was also prominent in East Hampton's cultural life. He was the former town historian and edited a six-volume history of the town. He served as president of the East Hampton Library and chairman of a capital campaign to build a children's wing finished there in 2014. He also served on the executive committee of the Guild Hall cultural center, where he was active as a fundraiser.

Other survivors besides his wife include his sisters, Mary Claire Vrtodusic of Oakdale and Florence Cope of East Marion; his stepchildren, Nisse and Erling Hope; and three grandchildren.

A wake will be held Friday at Yardley Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A service will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in East Hampton. Donations can be sent in Twomey's name to East Hampton Public Library, 159 Main St., East Hampton, NY 11937.

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