Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Darrow "Duke" Tully

Darrow 'Duke' Tully: Whopper of a lie marked former publisher's life

TAMPA — Members of the local Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a "gastronomic society" founded in 1248, shared many a multicourse meal in local restaurants with Darrow "Duke" Tully, sipping beaujolais with their poultry and chardonnay with seafood.

Mr. Tully was fluent in a wide range of topics from flying airplanes to ballet, and had the ability to tell a good story.

He had a rich background from which to draw. By the mid 1980s, Mr. Tully was publisher of The Arizona Republic. He was credited with launching the political career of John McCain. An accomplished pilot, Mr. Tully flew with McCain and played simulated combat games with him, according to friend and colleague Bill Shover. McCain even named Mr. Tully the godfather of his daughter, Meghan, Shover said.

Despite that colorful history, Mr. Tully embellished it further with a story about his military record. It was a doozy. Under pressure from a political enemy, Mr. Tully resigned from the Republic in 1985, admitting his heroics as an fighter pilot in Korea and Vietnam — his entry into military functions, where he showed up in the dress uniform of an Air Force lieutenant colonel — were all lies.

Mr. Tully, it turns out, never served in the armed forces at all. He apologized and slipped out of the spotlight. A Tampa resident since 1992, he died June 20, the result of a stroke. He was 78.

Local figures have made recent headlines with mysterious or bogus claims to military glory. Bobby Thompson, the subject of a St. Petersburg Times investigation and a founder of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that was shut down by the state last week, has represented himself as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a Vietnam veteran. So far, no corroborating records have been found.

Also last week, a magistrate sentenced a Lutz man to probation for violating the Stolen Valor Act. Angel Manuel Ocasio-Reyes had visited veterans organizations wearing medals he did not earn, including the Navy Cross, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

But Mr. Tully's claims may be remembered as the gold standard of phony military histories.

"I remember him telling me, emotionally, about how he was shot down in his P-51 in Korea," McCain told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. "He told me his back was broken, people dragging him out of the wreckage, him waking up in a body cast. It was quite a stirring story."

Accounts vary as to why. Shover has pointed to Mr. Tully's need to win his father's approval. Mr. Tully told the Republic he had idolized an older brother, a Marine pilot killed in World War II — and also said that he wanted to spruce up his resume.

Mr. Tully's own talents helped him rise through the ranks at several newspapers, becoming president of the San Francisco Newspaper Agency before joining The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette as publisher in 1978.

The scandal cost him friendships, including McCain's. "When Duke went down, John absolutely walked away from him, didn't even acknowledge he knew him as a friend," said Shover, a former public affairs director at Phoenix Newspapers. A message left with Sen. McCain's Washington, D.C., office on Saturday was not returned.

Mr. Tully resumed his career with Wick Communications in North Dakota, Montana, California and Arizona. He became CEO of Beacon Communications in 1991.

His son, Michael "Mac" Tully, followed his father into the newspaper business and is publisher of the San Jose Mercury News.

Mr. Tully's Westchase neighbors knew him as a crisply dressed man who greeted them warmly as he walked his little dog, Princess. Jim Judy, a friend from the Chaîne group, ate dinners and went on cruises with Mr. Tully and his wife, Victoria, and found him an engaging conversationalist. Judy knew about Mr. Tully's past, but said, "He never discussed that with me."

Karen Fernau, a food writer for the Republic, remembers Mr. Tully as an approachable man who gave newsroom staff hefty raises and was respected.

"The sad thing is that once you get exposed for being a liar, all the other good things you do tend to get lost," Fernau said. "Sometimes you get judged by that one, quirky whopper."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Darrow 'Duke' Tully

Born: Feb. 27, 1932

Died: June 20, 2010

Survivors: Wife, Victoria; daughter Bonnie Paul; son Michael "Mac" Tully; four grandchildren.

Darrow 'Duke' Tully: Whopper of a lie marked former publisher's life 06/26/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 26, 2010 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]