Thomas Joseph Mullen

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  • "He was a friend of mine!"
    - Frank Furry
  • "My mentor and our friend will be missed. He was smart as a..."
    - Ray Sullivan
  • "god bless your family"
    - joseph gentile
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    - Chris Guagenti Christensen
  • "Hundreds of us are grateful for Tom's guidance and are..."
    - Ron Varland
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Thomas Joseph Mullen,
October 9, 1939 - September 9, 2017
Thomas Joseph Mullen, a man of two loving families, one of blood and the other of ink, died Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Colorado Springs. He was 77.
Tom was born to Bernard and Helen (Schmidt) Mullen in Lima, Ohio, on Oct. 9, 1939.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Margaret Vicky (Vastano) Mullen, whom he married Nov. 25, 1961; two daughters, Molly McKanna (Michael) of Denver, and Shelly Chamberlain (Scott) of Austin, TX; a brother, Jack Mullen (Jerri) of Broken Arrow, OK; and five grandchildren, Meredith McKanna, Kevin McKanna, Matthew Chamberlain, Andrew McKanna, and Lauren Chamberlain.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Nancy Bonanno of Boca Raton, FL.
A 1957 graduate of Lima Senior High School, Tom attended The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati. He was a paper boy for The Lima News, then began his professional journalism career there at age 19 as a cub reporter. In 1964, at age 24, he was named editor of his hometown paper. While editor, The Lima News defeated two daily competitors and emerged as the area's only daily newspaper. In 1981, Tom became editor of the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs. He turned his focus to greatly improving the daily product and ended a 39-year fight with their competitor, The Sun, when they closed operations in 1986. Under Tom's deft leadership, The Gazette built a reputation for extraordinary journalism, including earning a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1990.
In 1991, Tom and Vicky moved back to Ohio where he became publisher of The Lima News. During 1999 and 2000, he also served as the Central Region vice president of Freedom's Community Newspaper Division, and oversaw six papers in five states.
After winning the 2000 R.C. Hoiles award - named for the founder of Freedom Communications - for stoking the flames of individual effort and achievement, he returned to Colorado Springs in May 2000 as publisher of The Gazette. In October 2004, at age 65, Tom retired after a 46-year career with Freedom.
First, though, for Tom, was his flesh-and-blood family. He met Vicky in 1960 when she was a copy girl at The Lima News and built a life of 55 years with her. His daughters and grandchildren were the light of his life. Memories of endless card games, summers at The Broadmoor pool, kickball and the game "hot lava monster" in the park, beach and Disney vacations, and his wise guidance will always remain. "Grandpa Tom" treasured the bond he had with each grandchild and, with his unending love and guidance, he was their best friend.
In his news career, Tom cultivated a fervent watchdog press role while enriching the social and economic needs of the two communities where he lived. In Lima, he held leadership posts and helped with formation of the Allen Economic Development Group, served on the board of Huntington National Bank, and worked with Allen-Lima Leadership, Lima Rotary Club and St. Charles Parish. He also was a key organizer of the city's free Star Spangled Spectacular, the Fourth of July fete started in 1992 in Faurot Park. He also was instrumental in formation of The Visionaries, a public-private development group; and the annual Empty Stocking Fund to help needy families each Christmas season.
In Colorado, he served on the board and chaired the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation, and was a board member of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, and the Colorado Press Association.
A private memorial service will be held for the family. Condolences may be left at The Springs Funeral Services website (

Funeral Home
The Springs Funeral Services
3115 East Platte Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
(719) 328-1793
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Published in The Gazette on Sept. 13, 2017
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