Abbigale (Abby) Martin currently lives in Dubuque, Iowa but grew up in Marquette, a small town on the Mississippi River that Abby said looks like “an old western town.” She went to high school there and later earned a degree in television and radio broadcasting from Brown College in Minneapolis. She explained that when she was only five or six years old she remembered hearing a radio show in the car and Abby told her mom, “I’m going to do that someday.” And that is what she did.
Abby said she decided to work “not in front of” her audience, so she went into radio broadcasting. Her first job in her field was in the Prairie du Chien area, but 23 years ago, when her best friend was killed in a car accident, Abby said she felt she needed to get away from the memories as it was just too painful. “When that happened,” Abby shared that she took a position in Montana and moved away. “My parents, at the time, asked me, ‘You’re going to what?’” Abby said and laughed.
Abby started out in Montana with the “oldies,” but at one point was offered her own show on a country station. She had her show for around six and a half years. “It was fun,” she said. “I had a lot of moms who listened to me. We put together trips and even went to see male strippers. It was so fun.”
But she shared that as she started getting a little older and thought more about her financial future, she decided to get into the executive part of broadcasting. Eventually Abby came back to Iowa and took a job in sales. She said it was tough selling air-time to her customers. “I’m here to sell you air,” she said with a laugh. She was offered another position on-air, but after a 10–12-year career, she explained that she made the decision and “got out of radio.”
Abby’s next venture was working as a branch manager for a payday/title loan company. “It was huge at that time,” she explained. Before long, Abby was promoted to training. She said she learned “a lot” about collections during her time doing that work. Work, she said “was fun again.” She enjoyed putting the right people in the right stores and learned a lot.
Abby shared a few stories of having to do repossessions. One time, the vehicle being repossessed was owned by the wife of a man who was getting a divorce and his wife had left the car in his garage. The tow truck was late in arriving, so a little block party ensued in the meantime. “They offered me snacks,” Abby said and laughed again. Although there were some fun stories, there were more difficult ones too. Like the time she shared that it was just before COVID, and the woman had children. Abby, though, said she was able to come up with a solution and got the woman’s vehicle back for her.
As a trainer, Abby said she traveled a lot and that didn’t fit well into her family life. So, after a short time in South Dakota to try to save her marriage, Abby returned to Marquette as a single mom with her 12-year-old twin boys Dylan and Hayden and her youngest, Jaxson who is now eight. When she returned, Abby worked in underwriting and soon was offered a position at the bank she had an account with since she was only two years old. “We want you to work here,” they told Abby one day as she was going through the drive-up.
After a permanent lay-off due to COVID closing that bank’s doors, Abby moved her and her children to Dubuque. “Two of my three boys are autistic,” she explained so they moved to find services for her children. “It’s a wild ride,” Abby said about being single and having two children with special abilities. “You learn very quickly,” she said.
“When Hayden was three, I knew he was different,” she continued. Dylan is all boy. We are dealing with his broken ankle right now.” Hayden, she explained is high functioning. “When he was five, he took an I.Q. test, and it was out of this world. He is verbal. He can hold a conversation.” Her youngest, she explained, was tested when he was two years old and was also diagnosed with autism.
So how did she do it? “I picked up the phone and started calling,” Abby replied. “I talked to my doctor. She referred me. It became a crusade of mine,” she explained and said the bank she worked for at the time supported her. At one point, Abby put together a movie night for autistic children. “We rented out the entire theater. We had 115 people show up. It was amazing,” she said and explained they didn’t really know how many people would come but they did it anyway. “It was a great turnout,” she added.
Abby also spearheaded bringing in informational speakers to help teach first responders and police officers how to approach people who are autistic. “My boys like to wander,” she shared. “It kept me up at night.” So, she decided to do something about it. Being sponsored by her bank and the local police department, Abby made it happen.
“I changed 150 percent when I had my kids,” Abby shared. “I used to base my success on my career.” Now, though, Abby said, “I’m all for children and my kiddos deserve as much as any other kid and that’s why I do it.”
Abby is very cool.
“Thanks,” she replied. “I’m tired,” she added and laughed. “Some days are better than others. I never know what to expect but I have a great support system.”
It’s been an especially tough year for Abby as her mother passed away in August. “It’s been a struggle,” she said. “My mom used to always say, ‘I cannot believe your patience.’” Abby explained, “I just choose to look the other way on stuff,” and added, “I’m really looking forward to the new year.”