Marriages aren’t just made in Heaven. Some of the best take place in Granbury.
Standing on the balcony of Granbury City Hall, Nin and Jan gazed into each other’s eyes. With the sound of splashing fountains, birds trilling and family and friends looking on, the groom recited the words that the bride insisted be written into the groom’s vows.
“I promise never to ask you to leave Texas.”
Judge Andy Rash nodded. “You may now kiss the bride.”
Jan Caldwell Hulett, who is now First Lady of Granbury, had reason to ask for such a promise, because her new husband had moved fourteen times during his career with General Motors. Like a true Texan, Jan viewed the Lone Star State as the center of the universe. Nin liked Granbury so well, he had already settled down and had no desire to leave. With a heart for the community, it comes as no surprise that Nin Hulett is now the city’s mayor.
Growing up on a farm in Bethany, Missouri, Nin learned about hard work and responsibility. On a farm, you never get a day off. There are cows to milk, seeds to plant and crops to harvest. He soon decided this wasn’t the kind of work he wanted to do all his life. He didn’t want to be a farmer.
Nin’s mother put great confidence in her son’s ability and willingness to work hard. She was forever loaning him out to help relatives or neighbors with their chores—anything from vacuuming his aunt’s floor to mowing a neighbor’s yard. She expected him to do a good job, even if it was without pay. A sense of achievement became its own reward. It was a lesson that would follow him for life.
Music brought relief from the monotony of farming. Nin’s dad formed a family band that played for area carnivals and special events. He was an engaging man who loved to entertain. They mostly sang country and gospel. Nin also played in the local high school band.
When Nin finished high school, he joined the U.S. Army paratroopers so he could afford an education through the G.I. bill. He trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and spent a few months in Vietnam before the end of the war. After his discharge, he played drums and guitar in the Whiskey River Band in the Kansas City area.
When he went to work for General Motors, the company co-opted with the G.I. bill to pay his way through college while he worked. He received his Bachelor in Business degree from Park College in Parkville, Missouri, and began working his way up the corporate ladder at GM until his retirement as business manager of the GM, Arlington, plant.
In 2008, after a round of golf at Harbor Lakes Country Club, a lady friend asked Nin if he was dating anyone. She had someone in mind: Jan Caldwell. Nin agreed to meet her, and they clicked.
As Community Relations Director for Luminant Energy, Jan was known throughout the region for her civic involvement. Nin’s efforts to impress her fell short of the goal when he took her to nice restaurants and the patrons didn’t notice him, but met their arrival with a friendly, “Hi, Jan.”
Nin wasn’t a man to be easily discouraged. If nothing else, his mother had taught him to never give up. He decided to use his musical talent to woo Jan. For years in Missouri he had faked the Spanish words to Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” The Missouri locals had no idea he faked the Spanish. Strumming his guitar and giving his best Latin lover rendition of Fender’s song, he sang to Jan. When finished, she laughed. “Never do that again,” she said. “My father was German. My mother was Mexican, and they came here from Mexico. I’m a second-generation immigrant from our neighboring country, and you just sang to me in an unknown language.”
It was getting harder and harder to find a way to impress her. He finally sealed the deal after he realized they shared the same goal for a life of community service.
Like Nin, Jan was challenged to succeed and graduated early from Tarleton State, the first person in her family to get a college degree. Her driving desire was to leave the world a better place than she found it. After teaching high school for a brief time, Jan realized that wasn’t her calling and applied for the job at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. For the next thirty-five years, she worked as an advocate for energy.
Since our lives revolve around energy, Jan’s time was consumed keeping the business community and civic leaders informed about everything happening at Comanche Peak. She was sometimes called upon to spend time in Austin, lobbying energy issues.
It’s important to them to be an ongoing part of the community and its progress.
When it became evident to others she was committed to making a difference, Jan was asked to join the board of groups and organizations that made an impact on the community. She was a founding member of the Granbury Education Foundation, which raises money for educational enrichment such as art, scholarships and field trips. She also serves on the board for the The United Way, Lake Granbury Beautification Council, Rotary Club of Granbury, and Lake Granbury Country Club.
Nin had been retired about a year when he met Jan, so now they had time to pay attention to everything happening in Granbury. Jan coming into his life validated the old adage that “iron sharpens iron.” Having someone to cheer his efforts caused him to kick into overdrive.
Running for mayor resulted from a conversation during a game of golf, when his golf buddies pointed out some concerns with the city operations. He told them if they didn’t like it, they should run for office and change it. They had another idea, saying he was the one who should run. A seat was coming open on the city council, so Nin filed and won. During his second year on the council, he was appointed mayor pro tem. Later that year, Mayor Ricky Pratt suffered a stroke, and Nin had to step in and assume the mayor’s responsibilities.
In 2013, he ran for mayor and won. The time spent with General Motors made him a natural fit for the job. He says, “If you listen to people, they’ll tell you what they need and help you succeed.” In addition to his mayoral responsibilities, Nin also serves on the Clean Air Coalition Board, Granbury Historic Properties Board, Optimist Club and the TV Advisory Board.
Even with their busy lives, the Huletts delight in time spent with their children and grandchildren. They hope to do more traveling and are excited about ongoing beautification efforts for the city parks and downtown area of Granbury. It’s important to them to be an ongoing part of the community and its progress.
As schedules permits, you may see the Huletts do more traveling, but you can be sure they’ll always be coming home to Granbury. After all, it’s in their wedding vows.