NORWAY – R. Donald Twitchell, a long-serving state lawmaker and former Norway town manager, died Wednesday morning at a medical facility in Brunswick. He was 78.

Twitchell served five terms in the Maine House of Representatives, from 1973 to 1982; and five terms in the state Senate, from 1983 to 1992.

“Don was a generous man who was passionate about serving the people of Norway,” Gov. John Baldacci said in a statement. “He dedicated many years to tirelessly working for the region and for improving the lives of all Mainers.”

Baldacci served with Sen. Twitchell in the Legislature. He had visited privately with Twitchell last week, the statement said.

“I’m very saddened to hear of Don’s passing,” state Rep. Sawin Millett Jr., R-Waterford, said in a phone interview. “He represented the greater Norway area for a long period of the ’80s.”

Millett said he worked with Twitchell for the region during the administration of Gov. John McKernan.

“He was the chair of the Taxation Committee for a time and a representative of the working class, something he was proud of,” Millett said. “He was well-respected on both sides of the political aisle and will be missed.”

Closer to home, officials in Norway also praised Twitchell’s service.

“He was very active in town and a damn good citizen,” said Selectman Bill Damon, who recalled the grocery store that Twitchell ran on Main Street for many years.

Don Gouin, a SAD 17 director from Norway, recalled Twitchell as a thoughtful man.

“I just remember what a really nice person he was,” Gouin said. “He was always joyful and happy, or at least gave that impression.”

Former classmate Stuart Cummings, who knew Twitchell since the second or third grade some 70 years ago, called him a “very personable fellow. We didn’t see eye to eye on politics, but I supported him some.”

Cummings said years ago, when Twitchell was in the Legislature, party lines were very strict. “If you were Democrat you were Democrat. And if you were Republican you were Republican.”

Regardless of party affiliation, Cummings said, Twitchell, a Democrat, was simply “a real gentleman. If you asked him for a favor, he went overboard.”

Baldacci called Twitchell “the genuine article, honest, and hard-working.

“He made sure that he took time for everyone he came into contact with,” the governor said. “I send my heart-felt condolences to Florence, his wife of 53 years, and their family.”

The Twitchells moved to Freeport about 10 years ago, their daughter June Twitchell-Cheever said Wednesday night by phone from her home in Augusta.

Before that, they resided in the Norway area for years. He owned and operated the former Chadbourne’s Market and Jackson’s Market, both on Main Street, Twitchell-Cheever said.

Baldacci will order flags to fly at half staff in Norway on the day of Twitchell’s funeral.

Funeral arrangements had not been finalized as of Wednesday night, Chris Weston of Oxford Hills Funeral Services in Oxford said.

Staff writers Leslie H. Dixon in Norway, Rebekah W. Metzler in Augusta and staff editor Mary Delamater in Lewiston contributed to this report.

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