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Cancer claims Pulitzer winner McAlary

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Mike McAlary, New York’s dominant tabloid reporter of the last decade, and a Pulitzer Prize winner last April, died on Christmas Day. He was aged 41. The cause of death was colon cancer.

McAlary, like an array of other well-known writers in New York, has close Irish connections. His father, Jack, told the Echo that his son’s paternal grandfather left Kilrea, Co. Derry, during the 1920s, while his grandmother was a native of Swatragh, also in County Derry.

McAlary was born in Honolulu when his father was in the Navy, and moved with the family to Flatbush, Brooklyn, at age 3. Seven years later, the family moved again, to Goffstown, N.H., where McAlary graduated from high school. At 14, he was writing for a weekly there and for The Manchester Union Leader. After college, he worked briefly for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald-American. But within a year, in 1980, he was back in his native New York. After working for the New York Post, he was hired by New York Newsday in 1985 to cover the police department.

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for a series of columns in The Daily News on the police brutalization of Abner Louima. In August 1997, after getting an anonymous tip, McAlary left a chemotherapy session and got the first bedside interview with Louima, a Haitian immigrant.

McAlary’s first novel, "Sore Loser," was published last year. He previously wrote three non-fiction books on New York cops, "Buddy Boys, When Good Cops Turn Bad," "Cop Shot, the Murder of Edward Byrne" and "Good Cop, Bad Cop" and a novelization of the movie "Cop Land."

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In 1993, he suffered severe injuries in an automobile accident. At the time, his popularity as a reporter was such that The Daily News and the New York Post fought in court over which newspaper had him under contract.

He is survived by his parents, Jack and Ellen, of Goffstown; his wife, Alice, and four children, Ryan, Carla, Michael and Quinn, ranging in age from 1 to 13, all of Bellport on Long Island.

He is also survived by four brothers and three sisters.

"Cancer happens too much, McAlary wrote in The Daily News a year ago, when his youngest son was born, "but if you are going to live, you have to take a chance on dying."

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