Finance, Fur Babies, and Fantasy: Former A&M-Central Texas CFO Becomes a Book Author

Karen Clos
July 31, 2023

Not all that long ago, Temple resident, Gaylene Nunn, 67, was immersed in the world of business. She was the vice president of finance and administration at A&M-Central Texas, a graduate of Tarleton State University in Stephenville, and had three decades of experience in a profession she loved, and over the years, had been promoted into increasingly responsible positions. In 2017, Nunn was named vice president emeritus upon her retirement, but she has remained as active in retirement as she was when she was working full time.

She rose up the ladder in her chosen profession at a time when women were scarcely represented in leadership, but she does not dwell on that. In fact, she credits her success to a solid work ethic, a long and loving marriage and a supportive husband, and a wry sense of humor as ever present as her keen business acumen.

Finance, Fur Babies, and Fantasy: Former A&M-Central Texas CFO Becomes a Book Author.

She was born in Cameron, a small-town girl with a commonsense upbringing, and an appreciation for friends, neighbors, and animals. And while she is not overly poetic about her past, she concedes that there are definitely common themes that have shaped – and continue to shape – her journey. But even she could not imagine how the unforeseen things would take her in an entirely unpredicted direction as a book author.

When Nunn talks about her late husband, Jim, her hazel eyes glisten subtly as if she were feeling him nearby while she speaks. They met, she says, while living in North Texas. They were neighbors, both looking in on a nearby elderly woman who lived next door. Over time, they became good friends and bonded quickly, marrying after two years, and sharing the same values and work ethics.

“Jim was my inspiration for a lot of wonderful things,” she said softly. “He encouraged me to go back to school for my MBA, he was by my side when new positions and promotions came along, and we both had a soft spot in our hearts for animals.”

Actually, she laughed, a whole lot of times, their shared love for all sorts of rescue animals became an ongoing source of humor.

“I used to tell my friends that we for sure had some kind of neon sign over our heads that only animals in need could read that said, ‘Strays welcome,’” she chuckled.

Altogether, she said, they would take in more than 11 rescues during their 30+ years together, accumulating a very real menagerie including nine cats, one of whom was albino and genetically deaf, taught to communicate with them via learned hand signals.

Others included a rabbit of unknown gender tenderly named ‘Wabbit,’ and a variety of dogs ranging from a miniature poodle, an aged black and white dog surrendered by its elderly owner, and several mixed breeds.

To be honest, she said, it wasn’t always her husband who was bringing home random strays. At least once, she said, it was she.

She and her husband had suffered the loss of a most beloved dog, she remembered, and Jim especially was really missing him. He had told her, whenever she brought up the possibility of another, that he wasn’t ready yet. Little did either of them know that sometimes the rainbow bridge works both ways.

“I was on my way to work, about a mile from our house, and as I drove down a hill, I saw a little dog running down the middle of the road,” she explained. “So, I stopped, pulled over, and looked around, but I didn’t see it anywhere.”

Baffled, she walked around her car, worried that she may have injured it accidently, even looking underneath the car just to make sure.

“When I climbed back into my car, there he was – sitting in the back seat smiling at me like he owned the place,” she laughed, adding that when she told her husband about it, he made her promise she would call animal control when she got to work. His heart just wasn’t ready – or so he thought.

“I called the people from the city, and they sent out someone to come and take the dog to the pound,” she said with a somewhat knowing smile. “But by the time they got there, Jim had already spent two hours with that dog. And when they told him that it was likely to be put down, he had not just agreed to keep him, he had already named him.”

Sam, as he would come to be known, would return the favor in a way that only fur babies can. It was he, and a sister cat, Emily, who were the couple’s constant companions – in both life and death.

It was after her husband’s passing that Nunn would embark on a decidedly new path. But she didn’t exactly see it coming. Like the random pup in her backseat, this opportunity was an unexpected and entirely life-changing surprise.

After her husband passed away, she explained, she was learning of others who had experienced the loss of their spouse. And the majority had no idea how to manage their finances which was right in her wheelhouse. She published her first book, “Before Your Loved One Goes: Planning for Your Reality” on Amazon in 2020, and another was soon to come – and it had nothing to do with finance and everything to do with romantic fantasy.

That’s right. Nunn was not just about facts and figures, spreadsheets, and bottom lines. She was in league with the likes of Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele – or with the potential to be at least. And again, for a good reason.

The inevitable sense of loneliness, she concedes, even for those with friends, relatives, and community, is overwhelming to some. And after a disappointing foray into online dating, she decided her next book would offer readers of a certain age the chance to once again savor the saucy nuances of romance.

“Well, no one is ever going to confuse me for a best-selling author,” Nunn laughed, flashing an expansive and decidedly mischievous smile. “But I didn’t write my books thinking I would sell millions of them. We deserve to restore a little romance in our lives if we can, and if my books do that for anyone, I’m happy.”

When she is not at the keyboard, Nunn finds enjoyment traveling and has been on cruises to the Caribbean, Central America, and Alaska, even voyaging to Ireland, Scandinavia, and several other countries in Central Europe. Currently, she says, she is planning a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands this December, and a trip to Brussels, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in the spring.

“Jim had traveled a lot before I knew him, but he made me promise to travel after he passed, and in a way, it is like he’s coming with me,” she smiled. “I have incorporated the places I have seen and the experiences I have had in my books which means in a way, I am helping other people experience them, too.”

Nunn added that she routinely gives away her books to public libraries and others as a way to give back to the Central Texas communities that she has loved and served for more than 40 years.

“Being a book author is not as good as a kiss from a fur baby,” she concluded, “but it is pretty darn close.

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