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Realtor ‘houses’ poignant memories

By Staff | Sep 13, 2008

How many houses can a realtor sell in over 40 years?

Marty Hall is someone who should know the answer but she has lost track of the numbers!

Possibly because there have been so many but probably because she had a great time being in the business.

Her retirement from realty sales in imminently close so the Estherville Daily News visited with the upbeat, colorful and savvy Estherville resident whose career of selling houses began in the late 60s.

The Grand Island, Neb., native’s story on how she and her husband, the late Don Hall, eventually came to call Estherville home is a rare tale as well.

Martha Jane DeVore and Don Hall were high school sweethearts at a school where he lettered in every sport there was.

“He was an all-time athlete,” she said. At the same time, Marty was a cheerleader and drum majorette.

“Don was scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers,” she reminisced, noting, “But the pay was pathetic.”

But away he went to Vero Beach to spring training.

“When we got married, Don was playing pro ball and was a pitcher. They moved us all around so he could pitch,” she said, naming the numerous states where the couple called home for short bits of time.

“Our first child, Judy, was born in Ponca City, Okla., and he pitched the night she was born. The fans took up a collection of $100 for us that night, and in those days that was a good bit of money.”

Their son Mike was born in Grand Island. “Don went to play ball that spring in Pueblo, Colo., but the pay was not a lot of money. At the time, Estherville had a semi-pro team and Don was convinced to come to Estherville.”

She noted he made more money playing with the semi-pro team than the pros.

“So we drove to Estherville and were coming down Half-Mile Hill and could see the lights that evening. We stayed in the Gardston Hotel and Estherville’s been home to us ever since.”

Her husband had a day job at Hennaman Motors in Estherville in addition to his ball playing.

Their second son, Pat, was born in Estherville.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for a few years. Olive Nichols had a travel agency and I worked part-time there.”

It wasn’t until realtor Clair Clark caught up with Marty and persuaded her to sell real estate.

The idea flipped-flopped some before Marty made the decision to try it. “But I only told my family. No one else knew about it.”

Off to Des Moines she went for a week to study and take the realtor test. “Back then there was a week’s wait for test results.”

So for over 30 years, Marty sold real estate in Clark’s office with her good friends, Jan Greig and the late Ila Sawyer.

“It was about 10 years ago that Ila and I went to work for Iowa Realty with Connie Heifner in Estherville. Connie then sold the business to Cathy McCarthy who is now my boss and friend.”

For a time, the Halls managed a boys’ baseball camp in Fifty Lakes, Minn. “Every year I said I wasn’t going to do the cooking, but I always did!”

For about 20 or so years, her husband was an instructor in the marine/small engine/motorcycle repair department at Iowa Lakes Community College.

“Iowa Lakes was an important part of our lives here in Estherville.”

The love for her departed husband shone through when she said the couple were the best of friends.

“During the ball years, we only had each other.” It was a time for trust and friendship to develop. “We had 50 years of marriage and that meant a lot to me,” Marty said.

She was emphatic in stating, “I love people and this is my home-Estherville. I will never move, and I mean, I will never move from Estherville.”

Just as there are too many houses to remember and stories to tell, she believes she has sold every house in Estherville at least once.

“I remember showing a house one time and the sellers’ little boy followed the prospective buyers and me around. When the couple asked me about a hole in the wall down in the basement, I said I didn’t know how it happened but I would ask the owners. That’s when the little boy announced, ‘That when it rains, it just pours out of that hole!'”

While some sales needed a lot of work, preparation and perspiration, others fell right into her lap.

“I remember in the 1980s how we sold a lot of farms.”

Marty has been dubbed “Mother Theresa” for her good acts of kindness to those needing rides to Sioux Falls medical facilities and other hospitals around the area.

“I just have always felt honored that people could come to me and ask for help. To me a friend is one to be needed.”

It is a joy to her that no matter where she goes someone knows her.

“This has been a good life for me, and it’s great living at the top of the state!”

Daughter Judy is an anesthetist living in Lake Havasu City, AZ, with her husband Charlie McKee. They are the parents of Liza and Daniel.

Son Mike is a hospital/nursing home CEO in Winner, SD. He and his wife Robbie are the parents of Megan, Amanda and Johnathan.

Son Pat and wife Becki live in Estherville. He is an aviation instructor at Iowa Lakes Community College, flies a trauma helicopter out of Sanborn, S.D., and is active with the Minnesota National Guard. The couple are parents to Chrisanne and Abby.

Retirement is not an ending for this woman who loves to go, go, go! She loves to dance, enjoys fine arts activities and will be traveling when she can.

“As my friends say, ‘My middle name is Go and I can’t say no!'”

She added, “It has been wonderful living in such a caring and gracious place like Estherville. I want to thank all of my clients for their trust in me over the years. I just want to thank everybody from the bottom of my hear for being so supportive. I just know that through my realtor work, I have friends in every walk of life.”