Popular Indy Columnist Dies

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Matt Tully (Photo: Sam Riche/IndyStar) Matt Tully (Photo: Sam Riche/IndyStar)

A longtime columnist for The Indianapolis Star has passed away. Matt Tully, who wrote more than 2,000 columns for the publication, passed away Monday after a battle with stomach cancer. Tully was 49.

The Indianapolis Star says the Indiana University graduate worked for the publication as a reporter and columnist since 2002, and spent five years covering the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C.

Tully was named Indiana Journalist of the Year in 2008 and won the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism in 2010. The publication says his work inspired it to launch the 10-year Our Children Our City initiative, targeting children's issues in Indianapolis. The Star says the effort, now known as Our Children, supports multiple youth-serving charities.

He is also the author of "Searching for Hope: Life at a Failing School in the Heart of America," which earned Silver Medal honors in the education category at the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Silver Medal, Education category, 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Statement from Indiana Governor 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.

Statement from U.S. Congressman Luke Messer (R-6):

“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.”

Statement from U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN):

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.

Statement from U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN):

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.

Statement from Purdue President 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.

Statement from Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma:

“Matt Tully has been a strong voice in Indianapolis for more than 15 years, and he never backed down from a challenge or from asking the tough questions. While we disagreed from time to time, I always respected his professionalism, talents and passion, and considered him a friend. Matt’s words and perspective will be missed in our city, and he and his family will be in our prayers.” 

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