Thomas Joseph Tully
February 18, 1933 – November 13, 2020
Dr. Thomas Joseph Tully, Ed.D., passed away on Friday, November 13, 2020 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas at the age of 87.
Tom Tully was born on February 18, 1933 in Hackensack, New Jersey. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph James Tully and Mary Barbara Kraus Tully, his brother, Joseph James Tully Jr. and his sister, Maryann Elizabeth Tully Hughes.
Tom grew up in North Arlington, New Jersey during The Great Depression in a "poor, but happy family". He would recant in vivid details his memories of growing up in New Jersey, his love of his family and his Catholic education at the hands of the nuns who he both revered and feared. Some of his most cherished memories involved spending time with his two idols, his dad and his brother Joey. Most Saturdays he and Joey would walk to Ruppert Stadium to watch their beloved Newark Bears play baseball. "Being raised devout Catholics by our parents and thus, not wanting to burn in hell for eternity, baseball was clean, legitimate fun. Since the Vatican made us more aware of our minds than our bodies… this was the ideal pastime for us…baseball, the thinking man's game." Sitting in the same spot behind the catcher each week, they were intrigued by the pitching and hero- worshipped the players. Sundays were often spent with his father visiting churches, talking and walking along the Hudson River and watching the boats come in.
Tom graduated from Queen of Peace High School where he earned the nickname “ Terrible Tom” because he was anything but and earned praise on the basketball court for his one handed push shot. He received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Saint Peter's University in Jersey City before he was drafted by the Army and stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. While in the Army, Tom received his Master's degree in Counseling from Our Lady of the Lake University and most importantly, met his bride to be, Bettie who, as fate would have it, was no stranger to the basketball court and had a spectacular one handed push shot of her own.
Tom and Bettie were married in 1959 in San Antonio. Tom taught English at Terrell Wells Middle School and then at the Language School at Lackland Air Force Base. In 1965, they moved to San Francisco for a year where Tom completed a post graduate program in Theology at The University of San Francisco. After moving back to San Antonio, he became a Lay Theologian for St. Gregory's Catholic Church in San Antonio and then worked as a counselor for the Texas Rehabilitation Agency. During the 60's, Tom and Bettie were very active in the Civil Rights movement- marching with Cesar Chavez from San Antonio to Austin in support of the farm workers and participating in related boycotts. Tom was also very involved with the Catholic Church reform movement. He was very proud of his Irish heritage, was a lifelong Democrat and true champion of the underdog. Tom and Bettie also became parents during this time, adopting Kristin in 1967 followed by Matthew in 1970. Tom loved being a father. "It was the greatest thing we ever did for ourselves. We really did know what we were getting into and have never regretted it- a stellar move, if I must say so myself."
The couple moved to Commerce, Texas in 1971 in pursuit of another degree, this time with their two young children in tow. Tom earned his doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from East Texas State University in 1974. Tom and Bettie then settled in Dallas to raise their family in 1976 where he became a licensed Psychologist and maintained a private practice until he retired in 2015. Tom took great satisfaction in his work as a psychologist. A good listener, he loved helping others and had a way of making people feel heard and understood.
Tom and Bettie followed their hearts to Estes Park, Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, and purchased a second home- their dream cabin in the 80's. It became their haven for hiking, golfing and "porching"-spending hours on the big covered porch with friends, talking, relaxing and enjoying the beauty of Estes Park. Summers were filled with visits from family and friends and Tom never tired of driving visitors through Rocky Mountain National Park- making countless trips up and down Trail Ridge Road. Ever the activist, he made a point to stand with the Patriots for Peace every Wednesday in Bond Park and delighted in the honks of support from passing motorists.
Tom is survived by his wife of 61 years, Bettie Louise Burkholder Tully of Dallas; his daughter Kristin Tully Dodson and husband, Kevin of Fairview, Texas; his son Matthew Tully and wife, Tania of Dallas, Texas. He was both Pawpaw and playmate to his grandchildren who adored him and enjoyed his silliness- Farren Barnett of Grapevine, Ryder and Lyla Tully of Dallas. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews and took great pride in being their "Uncle Tom".
Tom was a devoted husband to Bettie, a wonderful father to Kristin and Matthew, a great grandfather, father in law, uncle, counselor and friend. He was a kind, gentle man with a great sense of humor. He loved to make other people laugh, even at the expense of himself. He was a masterful storyteller. 87 years of living makes for a lot of stories so there were some that we knew by heart but many times he would surprise us. His greatest line in a eulogy for his brother Joey- "We Tullys are storytellers and reserve the right to…Embellish". He loved having a captive audience and would usually laugh and say his trademark "Honest to God" midway through a story. Tom wasn't one to shy away from parties. Head held high, he would stroll into a room with a big smile on his face eager to connect with people- often greeting people with a hug, a warm laugh, a gentle touch of acknowledgement on the shoulder. A true lover of people, he could talk to anyone about anything. Tom really didn't know a stranger. He brought his zest for life and his energy to everything he did and was fully present.
He loved writing with black felt tip pens, making lists, sending articles to family and friends accompanied by a handwritten note in cursive, History, FDR, sharing stories, talking, walking through the neighborhood and catching up with neighbors, reading the New York Times, music and concerts, marching bands, old planes, New Jersey, trains and eating toast. But mostly, Tom loved his family and his friends.
We will miss his stories about growing up in New Jersey and his delight at simply being with us. They say when someone dies that you miss the person you were when you were with them. We will miss the way that he made us feel- like we could do anything if we believed his opinion of us. He was our greatest champion- our chief supporter, our biggest fan.
We will miss his unconditional love and his presence in our lives so much but know that through us, his family and friends, his stories and his spirit will endure.
Our family will have a celebration of Tom Tully's life when we are able to do that safely. Tom always loved a good party.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" -- Hunter S. Thompson
Tom/Dad…we're so happy we were along for the ride!
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Thomas Joseph Tully
November 28, 2020
I will treasure forever my memories of La Madeline breakfasts with Tom over so many years. I could always count on him to regale me with story after story, told in his trademark New Jersey style! And every breakfast included brag sessions about Bettie, Kristen, Matt, or the grandchildren (of whom he was always in absolute awe!). I'm quite sure he's already been appointed Heaven's Chief Storyteller/Entertainer! He was a dear friend to me, & I'll miss him forever. My heartfelt condolences to Bettie, Kristen, Matt & your families. May the endless joys you all shared together be your very best memories of the man who loved you all so very much!
November 27, 2020
A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. I want to thank Tom and Bettie for 2 wonderful years spent in San Antonio. You were instrumental in persuading me to move south from Massachusetts, find me a wonderful apartment, help me find a teaching position and introduce me to the great city of San Antonio!!!
One of the funniest times was going snipe hunting with them!! What did a northern gal know about snipe hunting!!!
Love you both!!!!
Maggie Bon Tempo Merris
November 27, 2020
I left my home near Boston to attend school at Our Lady of the Lake College. At the time my sister Carol was teaching school in San Antonio so I knew I would have family close by. On weekends I would spend time with my sister and her good friends, Tom and Betty Tully. During that fall my sister became engaged to a guy back in Massachusetts. Just before Christmas, my sister and I drove her and all her belongings back to the Boston area.
So in January I returned to San Antonio alone. But not for long. I spent many fun weekends with Betty and Tom at their home. Sunday picnics on their front lawn were always special. They became my family away from home.
We lost touch over the years but the fond memories remain.
November 26, 2020
Bettie, Kristin, and Matthew,
Tom would be so proud of your tribute to him. You captured the essence of who he was. Tom touched so many lives, including mine and Gary’s. I have many fond memories to share when we are able to celebrate and honor Tom. Gary’s favorite memory is the time Bettie and Tom came over after a baby shower Jackie Tulloch gave us in 1987. Gary, being a WWII buff, asked Tom what it was like growing up during the war. Tom, of course, had no shortage of stories to tell. Gary was captivated and will always remember the time he spent with Tom that evening. All I can think of right now is how much love Tom spread to those of us lucky enough to have known him.
Julie Perez and Gary Carpenter
November 25, 2020
I clearly remember the day I interviewed Tom for the job with Texas Rehab. As part of the interview I introduced candidates to the rehab staff and the San Antonio State Hospital staff he would interact with. After the interviewed everyone implored me to hire him. Such was Tom's effect on people. It was my honor to work with him in San Antonio and later after we both moved to Dallas. Obviously he lived a full useful life. I know we are all are blessed for knowing him. My condolensces to all the family.
November 25, 2020
Bettie, I will miss Tom and his gentle spirit. My biggest memory of him is when I would run into him in the loading dock of the school while he would be waiting to pick you up. I would tease him and tell him that I would let you know that your chauffeur is waiting. Love you!
November 23, 2020
Wow, Bettie, Kristin, and Matthew,
What a spot-on tribute to our tall, handsome, gentle, bright, witty, vibrant, caring man, Tom Tully.
Only one of so many memories with smiles—
Huddled together on your back porch bench, backs to the wall, to protect us from the cold autumn rain, our knees getting soaked from the overhead eave’s rain-dripping. Regaling one another with variations of the meaning of life, following a packed, standing-room-only performance of the Roaches sisters at Poor David’s Pub. We were oblivious to anything but the warmth of our laughter and presence together in that moment.
You have gone in Peace, Brother Tom, thanks for leaving us in the comfort of our smiles with you,
November 23, 2020
Tom was a man too gentle to live among wolves--a beautiful and loving man with a beautiful and loving wife!
Much love to the Tully family--Terry O'Banion
November 23, 2020
This was a joy to read and Tom was a joy to be around! I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with him when he joined us at the Friendship Club at CCYoung! The picture I have attached is from our last New Years Celebration 2019-2020!
I loved his stories about New Jersey, and the affection he had for his family and friends. Tom and I had shared an Irish Catholic background, and we often exchanged stories! Such a great guy! I
am privileged to have known him and our dear Bettie! A truly beautiful couple!
November 19, 2020
I'll keep this short given there will be so many people wanting to remember Tom. He was undoubtedly to most kind and gentle man I've even known. There will be a draft in the universe now that he's no longer here with us.