The father of Mercury News publisher Mac Tully, former Arizona Republic publisher Darrow “Duke” Tully, has died from complications of a stroke in Tampa at age 78, according to the Republic’s website. From that website:
- [Darrow] Tully was publisher of The Republic and Gazette until December 1985, when he resigned after learning that his political enemies were investigating his war record.
- Tom Collins, Maricopa County attorney at the time, planned to have a news conference to expose Tully, who claimed to have been an Air Force combat pilot in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
- As publisher of the state’s largest newspaper, Tully is credited with launching the political career of Sen. John McCain. He and McCain, a Navy pilot, swapped war stories and even flew planes over the desert.
- In reality, Tully, although a skilled pilot, had never served in the Air Force.
- “Duke was a smart, smart guy and a very smart businessman, but he was consumed with his need to be something that he wasn’t,” said Pat Murphy, who succeeded Tully as publisher.
- Longtime friend and employee Bill Shover said Tully’s dual existence was driven by his need to win his father’s approval.
- “He was rejected by the Air Force because he had bad vision and flat feet,” said Shover, former director of public affairs for Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which owned The Republic and The Gazette during Tully’s tenure.
- Tully’s brother was killed in World War II during a training mission and his father criticized him for not becoming a war hero, Shover recalled.
UPDATE, Sunday, June 27: St. Petersburg Times: “Whopper of a lie marked former publisher’s life” — “… Mr. Tully’s claims may be remembered as the gold standard of phony military histories.” The story notes that Duke Tully was president of the San Francisco Newspaper Agency before joining the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette as publisher in 1978.