Jan Wells revels in city’s can-do, friendly attitude

MADISON – “Dynamic! Diverse! Determined!” Jan Wells uses those adjectives to reflect about the city she has grown to love and call “home” … Madison.

The Wells family was among ‘foreigners’ arriving in the 1980s who “generated all sorts of disruptions to the status quo of a little town that had existed quite happily since 1818. When John accepted employment with Intergraph in Madison in 1986, I could never have imagined that after nine moves among six states and Canada, our journey would end in Alabama,” Jan said.

Arriving from California’s Silicon Valley in California, Jan had serious doubts when John picked her up at the airport for house hunting. “The view from my car window was red mud as far as the eye could see,” Jan said.

However, when the moving van arrived four months later, something unexpected happened. Jan started volunteering in the schools. “At Bob Jones, we staged a slam-dunk-guaranteed-to-make-money fundraiser for athletics — a tractor pull on the football field. I remember laughing and camaraderie among that merry band of parents.”

At Madison Middle School, Jan met another transplanted mom. She was marching on the principal’s office to point out students were sharing textbooks and workbooks were missing most pages. We set about raising awareness for education. Thus began my love affair with Madison.”

“Many Madison firsts coincided with my own. Never had I gotten so deeply involved, so quickly,” Jan said. In that first year, she saw the new mayor/council governance, water distribution, funding a city school system, implementing home inspections and defeating Huntsville’s attempt to annex Madison.

“We were a scrappy little town,” Jan said.

As a REALTOR, Jan has told many newcomers that practically everyone moved from somewhere else with a wealth of life experiences and willingness to share.

Growth led to forming Madison Business Association and its successful “Shop Madison First!” mantra. MBA’s education component was the genesis for transition to Madison Chamber of Commerce circa 2000.

Jan served as mayor in 2000-2004. “Truly a life-altering four years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It gave me a new appreciation for public service. Madison is passionate,” she said.

“Madison has been good to me. I’m blessed with many good friends. Now that my daughter and family have returned here, I am content,” Jan said.

Jan and her granddaughters often stop at La Placita or Applebee’s. “I’m greeted with a hug. The girls say, ‘Nana! Do you just know everybody?’ Just another small pleasure Madison allows me.”

“Madison is fiercely independent and … has had a profoundly lasting and totally unexpected impact on my life, opinions and future,” she said. “After 30-plus years, I’ve officially lived here longer than anywhere else. That makes me practically native. I do love this town!”

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