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Robert J. Twitchell, business owner, hiker

When Robert J. Twitchell took his wife and their four young children to their vacation home in New Hampshire in the 1960s, he didn't forget Sunday worship.

Robert J. Twitchell
Robert J. TwitchellRead more

When Robert J. Twitchell took his wife and their four young children to their vacation home in New Hampshire in the 1960s, he didn't forget Sunday worship.

He just did it himself, clergy-free.

"We would go outside and with his prayer book he would conduct a service there, just the six of us," daughter Becky Roller recalled in an interview.

He considered it "direct communication" with the Almighty, Roller said, "because we were outside in all that beauty."

On Thursday, May 2, Mr. Twitchell, 90, of Haddonfield, retired owner of a recycling equipment sales firm in Cherry Hill, died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

Mr. Twitchell earned the Haddonfield Citizen of the Year award in 1981 and the Haddonfield Memorial High School Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

But to a degree, his daughter said, Mr. Twitchell was defined by his love for New Hampshire hiking, near his family home on Squam Lake, near Holderness, and across the Granite State.

"When I was 16," Roller said, her father led "a family hike with another family, the first time I'd been up Mount Washington," the highest point in New England, known for its instantly changing weather.

"As we came down, there was incredibly dense fog.. . .

"I just remember staying two feet from the person in front," in the long line of family hikers.

"It was wonderful," she said, a gift given by her father, a gift that she has passed on.

"My daughter and I went up two summers ago," Roller said, "my 40th anniversary" of that first Mount Washington climb."We had perfect weather. And we had awful weather," on the same climb. "That's what it's all about."

Born at his parents' Haddonfield home, Mr. Twitchell graduated from Haddonfield Memorial High School in 1940, attended Maryville (Tenn.) College, and did aircraft maintenance in the World War II Army Air Corps.

"He met my mom in 1948, when she was a counselor at a girls' camp in Vermont, and he was her blind date," Roller said.

When they married in 1951, his idea of a honeymoon was not unusual for an outdoorsman.

"He took her skiing in New England and Canada for their February honeymoon," Roller said.

Mr. Twitchell earned a bachelor's in industrial engineering at Lafayette College in 1950 and joined his father's business, Twitchell Engineering, which became R. J. Twitchell in 1965. He retired in 1995.

"Originally, it was a representative for the Dempster Dumpsters," Roller said, selling the huge garbage and trash bins, before getting into other recycling equipment.

Roller knew Dumpsters well, in her role as a manager at the Commissary, the cafeteria on Sansom Street near 17th Street, which lasted from 1976 to 1991 and for which she illustrated The Frog/Commissary Cookbook.

Mr. Twitchell was a former chairman of the Haddonfield Planning Board and chairman of the building and the finance committees at Grace Church in Haddonfield, where he was a vestryman and a warden.

He was an officer for Interfaith Caregivers, which provides shopping, transportation, and such for the elderly or those with disabilities.

Mr. Twitchell was still out and about, within the last month attending with his wife the annual dinner of the Haddonfield Civic Association.

But, Roller noted, last summer was the first in memory that her parents had not spent their annual month in New Hampshire.

"Dad didn't want to go back and not be able to do all the things he had been able to do in the past," she said.

Besides daughter Becky, Mr. Twitchell is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jan; son James; daughters Suzanne Hutter and Jamey Herdelin; and eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by a grandson.

A visitation was set from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Kain-Murphy Funeral Services, 15 West End Ave., Haddonfield.

A life celebration, followed by a reception, is set for 11 a.m. Friday, May 17, at the First Presbyterian Church, 20 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield.

Donations may be sent to Interfaith Caregivers, P.O. Box 186 Haddonfield, N.J., 08033. Condolences may be offered at