George Twigg III, a former state representative, real estate broker and auctioneer, died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Saco, Maine. He was 85.
Twigg represented Belknap District 4 during Mel Thomson’s first term as governor, and the pair formed a lasting friendship based on their shared belief in strong fiscal conservatism. In 1974, Thomson tapped Twigg to chair the Eminent Domain Commission and he went on to serve on the Tax and Land Appeal Board for 21 years, retiring in 1996. He was considered an expert in real estate practices and law.
He earned a business administration degree at Boston University and launched his career working as a marketing representative for General Electric, Raytheon, and Motorola where his customers included NASA and the Pentagon. He served two years in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Newport, R.I.
After living in both the Boston and Washington, D.C., areas, Twigg decided it was time for the next chapter in his life and jettisoned his corporate career and moved to Gilmanton, N.H.
His son, George Twigg IV, recounted that his father became a jack-of-all-trades and cobbled together work in real estate sales, auctioneering, appraising and as justice of the peace.
Over the years, Twigg officiated at hundreds of marriages at scenic sites throughout Gilmanton and once married the same couple twice, but warned if they divorced again they’d need to find someone else to perform the nuptials.
Even after his retirement from state government, Twigg kept active in politics and served on the campaigns of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.
“He remained tied into the Republican community in New Hampshire,” his son said.
He grew up in Needham, Mass., and was a standout basketball player and track athlete in high school. Twigg retained his love of basketball and became an official, refereeing high school, college and even international games in Poland, Spain and Puerto Rico.
He refereed the only high school basketball game in which the team Lew Alcindor played for lost. A Hall of Famer, Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he turned pro.
Anna Mae, his wife of more than 21 years, recounted that when she met Twigg he had 20 sled dogs in his backyard that he assumed the care of, after his son left home for college. He became the announcer for the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club and the World Championship Sled Dog Derby.
Over the years the number of dogs began to decline as some of the oldest began to succumb to advancing age. After coming in from tending to the remaining dogs, Anna Mae recounted Twigg telling her he had some good news and some bad news and then announced that a 13-year-old female had just had puppies, but that there were only two pups in the litter.
When they moved to Kennebunk, Maine, they took the lone surviving dog, “Blackie,” who attracted a large fan base as he was walked on the beach and frequently had his photo taken. When Blackie died at age 18, they had him cremated and had his obituary published in the local paper.
Blackie’s ashes will be interred with Twigg in the family lot in his hometown cemetery.
The move to Maine was a homecoming of sorts for Twigg as he had worked as a lifeguard and sailing instructor at Kennebunk Beach in the summer while he was going to college, according to his son.
“He was a collector of all things,” his son said. “Land, furniture or knick-knacks and he could never bear to sell things.”
Twigg’s greatest legacy remains in Gilmanton. In 2014, Twigg agreed to sell 85.4 acres for about two-thirds of its fair market value, subject to conservation easements prohibiting its development in perpetuity.
In partnership with the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests, the Gilmanton Land Trust and the Gilmanton Conservation Commission, which he once chaired, Twigg agreed to preserve some of the community’s most iconic views and preserve open space for future generations to enjoy.
The four properties include 15 acres at Frisky Hill, the foreground of a view of the Belknap Range stretching into Maine; 21 acres divided among three fields, overlooking and fronting on Loon Pond; 41 acres of farmland at Meetinghouse Pond with 1,000 feet of frontage on the town’s largest undeveloped pond; and 9 acres at the junction of Loon Pond Road and Griffin Road featuring a family cemetery dating to the early 1800s.
“He was incredibly gregarious and friendly and just as comfortable talking to a politician as he was to somebody fixing a small engine. He had no real bias about class or position and enjoyed whatever someone brought to the conversation and as a result has a diversity of friends across all groups,” Twigg’s son said.
Dean Dexter of Laconia, who worked with Twigg in county government recounted that one of Twigg’s pet peeves was the practice of making free passes available to political officer holders and others, not only at county-owned Gunstock but at state-owned recreational facilities.
“Our paths crossed occasionally, and I must say he was respected and liked, quite outspoken at times and not afraid to fight for what he believed in,” Dexter said.
Sarah Thorne, who served on the Gilmanton Planning Board with Twigg, said he was a dedicated volunteer and very knowledgeable about land use issues.
“We are forever grateful to have the views and farmland preserved on Frisky Hill, on Loon Pond Road and Smith Meetinghouse Road,” Thorne said of Twigg’s agreement with the Gilmanton Land Trust to sell four of his properties to the town and conservation buyers.
His wife said Twigg always mowed his own lawn. Their Maine home typically had a ‘For Rent’ sign posted as they used it seasonally and Twigg would often be approached as he was mowing by people wanting to know if the homeowners were around.
Twigg would talk with them for awhile to determine if they were good prospective tenants before disclosing the guy pushing the mower also owned the place.