After a long, interesting and happy life, longtime Greenwich resident Harry Gilhespie Twitchell passed away peacefully on April 24, 2021, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Harry was born on September 15, 1921, in Lisbon, Portugal. He resided in Lisbon for the first five years of his life while his father Karl Twitchell, the noted geologist and explorer, oversaw copper mining operations nearby.
With his mother Nora Gilhespie Twitchell, he migrated to Devonshire, England in 1926, attended school at Winchester Lodge. He then left the Tonbridge School in 1939.
As World War II became imminent, Harry and his mother moved to the United States while his father continued his career in Saudi Arabia. Harry attended the University of Vermont, from which he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science in 1943.
After graduation, Harry enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving at several bases in this country as well as in the Philippines. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Lieutenant.
Upon returning to civilian life, Harry attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, receiving a second B.A. in Architecture and lettering in tennis. He spent the largest part of his career working in New York City for the national YMCA, where he specialized in designing swimming pool buildings and facilities. Beginning in 1975, he was self-employed, preparing drawings for a variety of residential and commercial projects. One of Harry’s proudest achievements was designing and having built the Hillside Road house where he resided for well over fifty years. A classic mid-century modern design with a variety of innovations.
In 1955, he married the former Elizabeth Cassatt, and had three sons. She predeceased him in 2002.
Harry was active in several aspects of Greenwich life. He served on the Representative Town Meeting for many years, as well as with the Greenwich Land Trust, At Home in Greenwich, and the Greenwich YMCA. In later years, he was an active participant in the Retired Men’s Association.
Harry was also very involved with Christ Episcopal Church, where as a Lector his clear English accent made him a popular reader of the gospel for decades. He chaired the church’s Property Commission, lending his architectural talents to several projects; he also served on the History Commission and helped count contributions after services.
An avid sailor, Harry spent countless happy hours on Long Island Sound in his small boats, and was an officer and instructor with the Greenwich Sail & Power Squadron. He was so committed to sailing, rather than pulling out the outboard motor, that on more than one occasion in light airs, he ended up drifting onto the rocks. When not testing those waters, he was also an enthusiastic tennis player.
Harry also enjoyed travel; in addition to visiting most of the United States, he ventured to such exotic locales as Russia, Tanzania, China, and the Greek Islands. Well into his 80s, he visited old friends in England and did a cruise of the fjords of Norway.
In 2012, Harry married again, to Betty Hankwitz, the widowed former college roommate of his first wife. The companionship they provided for each other in their later years was a blessing for them both.
Harry is survived by his wife Betty Twitchell; sons Keith, Colin and Owen Twitchell; and stepdaughters Amy Meyer, Bonny Saulnier, Jenny Hankwitz, Molly Hankwitz, and Lucy Hendricks,
A memorial service will be held at Christ Church at 1 p.m. on June 5, followed by interment of the ashes in St. Albans, Vermont on June 9.