On his 22nd birthday, Barry Hobbins got what may have been the biggest surprise of his political career.

The then-speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Republican Richard D. Hewes, invited Hobbins, a Democrat who was serving his first term in the Legislature, to preside over the session.

“It was somewhat unheard of and quite frankly I was somewhat taken aback,” said Hobbins, who is currently a state representative from Saco. “My legs were shaking.”

But the gesture, which took place in 1972, will always be remembered. Hobbins, who is 63 years old now, described Hewes as a politician who put his political party “second to his relationships.”

Both men graduated from Thornton Academy in Saco.

Hewes, a longtime resident of Cape Elizabeth, died at his home Tuesday after an 18-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 87.

“If we had more people like Dick Hewes in the Legislature, we wouldn’t have the impasse that we have now,” Hobbins said Tuesday night.

Hewes was born at the former Webber Hospital in Biddeford, the son of Clyfton and Frances (Libbey) Hewes. His father was a municipal court judge, according to a daughter, Carolyn Smith of Cape Elizabeth.

Smith said her father grew up in Saco. Hewes attended the University of Maine in Orono, where he played varsity football.

He later enrolled at Boston University Law School and went on to practice law in Boston.

In 1960, he moved back to Maine, where he continued to work as a trial lawyer. In the mid-1960s he ran for the school board in Cape Elizabeth and was elected. He ran for the Legislature in 1966 and was elected to serve five terms in the House and one term in the Senate, serving as speaker of the House from 1972 to 1974.

“He liked to call himself the listener of the House rather than the speaker,” his daughter said. “He felt people talked too much.”

Smith said her father told her once that his biggest regret in life was not running for Congress.

“He would have been a good congressman,” Smith said. “He was diplomatic. He was very fair and he was highly respected in the House. When the Democrats took control of the House in 1974, Hewes, who is described by his family as a moderate Republican, was asked by some Democrats to seek the speaker’s position. He declined their offer. It took the Republican Party until 2010 before a Republican was again selected speaker of the House.

Hewes sat at the front of the House chamber in 2010 to watch as Speaker Robert Nutting, a Republican from Oakland, took the oath of office.

“He was a moderate, old school Republican who realized that one (political) party could not govern absolutely,” said a son, Richard N. Hewes of Portland.

Hewes said his father was not only respected as a politician, but was highly regarded as a defense lawyer.

“He loved the law, politics and sports,” Hewes said. “He believed it was a privilege to be a lawyer, to serve in politics and to serve the people.”

Horace “Hoddy” Hildreth of Falmouth said he had the utmost regard for Hewes. The two Republicans met in Augusta, while Hildreth was serving in the Senate. Hildreth is the son of Horace Hildreth, who served as the Republican governor of Maine from 1944 to 1948. The elder Hildreth ran for the U.S. Senate in 1948, losing to Margaret Chase Smith, which put an end to his political career.

“He was a remarkable man. He never got mad at anyone. We need more people like him in Augusta,” Hoddy Hildreth said of Hewes.

Hewes’ family said a memorial service will be held this Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Cape Elizabeth.