Above: Sen. Fulton, his wife, Judy, and his son, Basil, pose before the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.
Sen. Tony Fulton was considering running for office himself when he was appointed last November to represent south Lincoln in the Nebraska Legislature. He replaced Sen. Mike Foley, who was elected State Auditor.
Fulton, an engineer by profession, said his background is helping him as a new senator.
“It’s helped me analyze bills, to break things down to their basic elements,” he said. “That’s what engineers do.”
But Fulton’s background includes much more than engineering. Halfway into his engineering degree at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, he took two years off to intensively study philosophy through Kansas Newman University and theology at Mount St. Mary’s University, a private college in Maryland.
“It was a time in my life when I was looking for deeper meaning,” he said.
Fulton said this experience has enabled him to look at problems while considering different philosophies and world views. This broader perspective has served him well in his profession.
“It’s important not to ignore the liberal arts—it makes for better engineers,” Fulton said.
After graduating in 1997, Fulton worked in Lincoln as an engineering consultant and continues to do consulting work for international energy projects.
Somehow, Fulton still makes time to run his own homecare business. He is CEO of Guardian Angels Homecare, a business concept that started when he was a young boy growing up in Auburn, Nebraska.
“An older lady from church called my mom to ask if she could send someone over to help her. I was the oldest boy, so she sent me.”
Fulton began helping the older woman by cleaning her home and running errands. He was paid 50 cents per job and spent it on baseball and football cards.
“I bought the entire 1985 football set because it used to have gum in it. Several collectors have offered to buy it,” he said proudly.
That first client referred him to several of her friends who also needed a little help around the house. Years later, Fulton’s helpfulness has grown into a successful business.
“This has allowed me to do something entrepreneurial as a means to do good, to change the culture for the better. That’s deeply satisfying to me.”
Fulton named weight lifting as a hobby. While he does it now to maintain strength, he used to take it more seriously.
“I did body building for a couple of years,” he said.
In 1998, Fulton married Judy Vandewalle, a fellow student he met at church while attending UNL. Five children have followed: Thomas and Augustine, seven-year-old twins; Bede, 5; Bernadette, 3; and Basil, 3 months.
Each was named after Catholic saints who were scholars, Fulton explained, except for Bernadette.
“We just really liked that name,” he said.
What do his children think of his new post as senator?
“The day I was appointed, I picked them up from school to tell them. They wanted to know if this meant they could get access to see what was behind all the ‘secret doors’ in the Capitol building,” he said, grinning.