Neil Tully of Riverhead, formerly of Southampton, died on November 21, after a brief illness. He was 82.
Born on January 2, 1933, in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, to Hattie and William Tully, Mr. Tully was always drawn to the sea. His calling to the sea provided a long, storied and successful career in commercial fishing—primarily lobstering—and in the seafood service business.
Early in his career, he apprenticed on various party boats stationed in Sheepshead Bay and became one of the youngest members of the fleet to earn a full captains license, which at 21 years of age, permitted him to command merchant ships of more than 100,000 tons. Although he opted for the more independent lifestyle of commercial lobster fishing, he maintained his Merchant Marine captain’s license well into his seventies.
In 1956, Mr. Tully married Louise Andersen and settled in the Marine Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The couple’s three daughters were born, and then, in 1965, Mr. Tully and his young family relocated to Southampton. He quickly established himself as one of the area’s most innovative and successful lobstermen. While running his fishing boat out of the Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays, he and his family established a small retail business, which later became Tully’s Seafood Market. In 1978, he retired from commercial fishing and, along with his wife, dedicated himself fully to the wholesale/retail seafood business.
In 1979, Mr. Tully and his wife purchased property on Foster Avenue in Hampton Bays, near the site of the Shinnecock Coast Guard Station, where they founded Tully’s Seafood & Lobster Market which, known for service, quality, and meticulous attention to detail, quickly became one of the East End’s most well-regarded businesses of its type. Over time, and in addition to the seafood market, Tully’s came to include a popular restaurant, a marina, a commercial seafood distribution business, and an outdoor clam bar. At its peak, Tully’s employed more than 75 individuals.
Upon retirement and the sale of their business in 1995, the couple relocated their primary residence to Calverton. During his retirement Mr. Tully divided his time between Calverton, Orlando, and Newport, Vermont.
Mr. Tully’s Brooklyn accent and Irish eyes had a melody and twinkle which were in sync with each other, survivors said. When he spoke, one always listened because he always had something genuine and interesting to say. He was known for a steadfast commitment to his profession, as well as for his kindness and abiding honesty.
For many years, he was an active member of the East End commercial fishing community, and he remained an active member of Long Island’s Catholic Church community throughout his life.
Mr. Tully was predeceased by his parents, as well as a brother, Bill, and sisters Louise and Jean (Kabelka).
He is survived by his wife, Louise; daughters Louise Koral and husband Bill of Bridgehampton, Alicia Ferguson and husband Tom of Vermont, and Claudette King and husband Kevin of Virginia. He is also survived by a brother, John, and two sisters, Loretta Costa and Marion Greve; seven grandchildren, Ashley, Spencer, Allison and Madeline Koral of Bridgehampton, and Gwendolyn Diaz and husband Brett of Nashville, Clark and Kyle King of Virginia; three great-grandchildren, Collette, Seraphina and Wilhelmina Diaz; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Mass for Mr. Tully took place on November 27 at St. John The Evangelist Church in Riverhead, followed by a reception at Seasons of Southampton.
Memorial donations may be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children, P.O. Box 1525, Ramson, West Virginia 25438.