Emerson master#039;s graduate dies from H1N1-related complications

by Beacon Staff • April 29, 2009

A 2006 Emerson master's graduate, David Twomey, 27, died on June 30 from complications stemming from the H1N1 flu virus, family members and college administrators said.

David Prescott Twomey III pursued his passion for new media and politics at Gannon University, where he recieved a B.A. in communication arts before graduating from Emerson with an M.A. in political and organizational communication, according to a statement from the college.

On June 22, Twomey warned friends on Facebook that swine flu was still a lethal threat. On June 24, he came down with a sore throat. He died six days later.

Dr. Gregory Payne, an associate professor in the communication studies department, taught Twomey and enlisted him as a graduate assistant. Payne told iThe Beacon/i that Twomey was, "a vibrant, incredibly creative individual who truly had no ceiling."

"You have talented students, but then you have some where you pick up things from them. He was one of them," Payne said.

Twomey helped Payne with new media and outside advocacy projects, where his strong Web design skills were put to full use.

Twomey's mother, Deborah Twomey, said her son's passion for new media and Web design blossomed in the seventh grade, when his Catholic middle school recieved new computers.

"Other than taking them [computers] out of the box, the nuns didn't know what to do with them," she said. Twomey set up the computers, and from then on was the go-to guy whenever the school experienced any computer difficulties. During his seventh and eighth grade years, he designed the school's Web site and taught himself HTML programming. In high school, he began his own freelance Web design business.

After graduating from Emerson, Twomey worked as an assistant for public affairs and multimedia coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency, before receiving a position as operations coordinator for digital media services for the U.S. Federal Courts Office of Public Affairs.

His mother said Twomey was humble about his many accomplishments, and said her son believed in public service. While employed at the Federal Courts, Twomey worked to improve communication and public relations between different judicial branch Web sites.

"He took it personally. He wanted the government to run effectively and work for the people. He believed that his work was serving his country," his mother said.

Friends, meanwhile, remembered Twomey's character. "He was genuine and honest and he's always been there," said Tim Fam, who was one of Twomey's best friends. "He was a good friend and a good person."

Fam said Twomey was proud of his home state of Maine, and once brought a few of his Emerson friends home for the state's annual Clam Festival in Yarmouth.

"He was so excited for weeks beforehand," Fam said. "He showed them the food and the different cultures."

Payne said Twomey's calling hours, held in Portland, Maine, were so crowded they were extended by an hour. Funeral services were held in Portland on Tuesday.

Twomey's mother said if there was any way her son would like to be remembered, it would be with a smile on his face. She said that her son's work in the technology world will secure his legacy.

"His memory will continue because the Web doesn't die. What he did in his life is still alive and working."