IN Focus: Remembering IndyStar columnist Matthew Tully


Matthew Tully (Photo courtesy of the IndyStar)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A well-known reporter and columnist at the Indianapolis Star has died after a two-year battle with stomach cancer.

Our new gathering partners at the Star say Matthew Tully passed away at the age of 49 Monday evening. He leaves behind a wife and 7-year-old son.

Tully worked for the Star since 2002. Before that, the Indiana University graduate covered the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C.

“Tully is being remembered today as a powerful, thoughtful voice in the Indianapolis community, penning nearly 2,000 columns over the years, frequently taking on politicians, police and others in positions of power,” wrote IndyStar reporter Maureen C. Gilmer. “But it was his passion for children and education that sealed his legacy.”

Tully was well-known and respected in Indiana’s political and journalistic communities. Lawmakers and community figures have begun to express their condolences:

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb:

“Matt Tully set a high bar in the Fourth Estate and was the master of the follow up question, always digging deeper. A ‘Tully column’ was one always read, because you knew you would learn something, at times painfully about yourself if you occupy the office I now do. Every visit we had ended with talk of family and the Cubs. I will miss coffee and community conversation with Matt and think of the Tullys often.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly:

“So sad to hear that Matt Tully has passed. Matt loved Indiana and cared deeply about Hoosiers. He challenged us all to be more thoughtful and compassionate. Thinking of his wife Valerie and their son Reid at this difficult time.”

U.S. Sen. Todd Young:

“Indiana is blessed with truly great journalists and Matt Tully was one of the best. His commentary was colored not by party ideology, but by the simple idea that Americans deserve a government that will take action on our greatest challenges and move toward a more perfect union. Indiana will miss his voice.”

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels:

“In a sense, Matt and I were in school together.  In 2003-04, I was a no-name, first-time candidate, traveling all over Indiana virtually every day.  Ours was Matt’s first major statewide campaign, and he covered us closely, occasionally traveling with us and learning some of what I was learning about the varied peoples and problems of our diverse state.

Then, and always, Matt probed, and challenged, and criticized when he disagreed.  But he was a thorough, tireless, away from the desk journalist, even as technology and market pressures were endangering that valuable species.

And he was fair.  When he saw real results, he acknowledged and reported them.  He never fell into the cynicism that “they’re all the same” or that serving in public life automatically marks a person as an untrustworthy self-seeker.

He loved his son, who has cruelly lost his father just as he enters the years when a boy most needs a firm hand and a good role model.  I hope Reid will remember enough of the fine person Matt Tully was to grow up in a way his dad would be proud of.”

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer (IN-06):

“My heart breaks to learn of the passing of Matt Tully. To me, Matt was Indiana’s most prominent political writer. We didn’t always agree, but I never questioned that Matt was doing his best to get the facts and communicate the truth as he saw it. But most importantly, he was an even better person and I considered him a great friend. The Messer family will be praying for Matt and his family as they mourn his passing.”

Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili:

I am deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Matt Tully. A journalist of Matt’s talent could have chosen to work anywhere, but his heart always belonged to Indiana. He found his highest calling in writing about the issues facing Indianapolis and the people who, like himself, chose to make their lives and raise their families here. Matt understood that great journalism is a public good and that a great journalist is a true public servant. His service to our community will not be forgotten. While we all mourn his loss, my prayers today are with his family and all Matt’s friends and colleagues at The Star.

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