(Sept. 19, 1906-Mar. 26, 1997). Journalist, newspaper executive, civic leader, and philanthropist, Nina Mason Pulliam was born in rural Morgan County, outside of Martinsville, Indiana. She was one of seven children born to Laura L. (Gesaman) and Benjamin Franklin Mason. 

As a child, she suffered from tuberculosis and traveled by herself to Arizona for treatment when she was a teenager. After returning to Indiana and completing high school, she began studying journalism at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana but left to enroll at Indiana University. She later studied at the University of New Mexico.

Nina Mason worked as a journalist in Indiana–first at Farm Life, a national magazine published in Spencer, Indiana. When the magazine ceased publication during the Great Depression, she moved to Lebanon, Indiana, where she worked at the Lebanon Reporter for Eugene C. Pulliam prior to their marriage in 1941. Eugene had three children from two previous marriages, including a son, Eugene S. Pulliam, and two daughters, Martha C. Pulliam, and Helen S. Pulliam.

Nina Mason Pulliam holds a small dog.
Nina Mason Pulliam with dachshund, n.d. Credit: Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust View Source

Nina served as founding secretary-treasurer and a member of the board of Central Newspapers, Incorporated, the media holding company Eugene established in 1934. Following their marriage, Nina and Eugene Pulliam worked together as a team in the newspaper industry until his death in 1975.

Nina Mason Pulliam served as president of Central Newspapers from 1975 until her retirement in 1979. In addition, she was publisher of two of the company’s newspapers, the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette, from 1975 to 1978. She also wrote a series of articles that were later compiled into several books. Eugene S. Pulliam succeeded his father as publisher of the Indianapolis Star.

Nina Mason Pulliam was a member of the first cohort of women admitted to Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists. She also loved flying and notably, was the first woman to earn a private pilot’s license in Indiana.

Pulliam became a committed philanthropist, supporting many causes, including support of the blind, education, animals, nature, the outdoors, and Native American art and culture, especially programs in Arizona and Indiana. Her interest in education led her to join the board of trustees at Franklin College, where she had begun her undergraduate education, in 1963.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust was established upon her death on March 26, 1997, and honors her legacy as a compassionate business and civic leader, who devoted many hours to civic, charitable, and community work. Today, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust seeks to help people in need, especially women, children, and families; to protect animals and nature, and to enrich community life primarily in metropolitan Phoenix and Indianapolis.

Revised July 2021

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