By Mike Scott
Kent Martin is a very familiar name in the Kahoka area. From his drag racing days at drag strip in the early 1960’s, to owning Martin Implement and Buick and an appliance store in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, to his successful 40 years in the real estate business, Martin established himself as something of a Kahoka icon.
“My parents had the International Harvester, Buick and GMC dealership, along with the appliance business, for years,” Martin said.
“I worked for Dad quite a bit, got a little older and got a little smarter for it.”
After his father was killed in a traffic accident in January of 1969, Kent was left in charge of R&K Martin, Inc.
“I started to wind the farm machinery business down after that,” he said.
After a fire destroyed the implement business, located where Tri-State Welding is currently, Martin bought an old gas station at the corner of Johnson and Main, and converted it into a car lot. Not long afterwards, he purchased the restaurant building owned by Delbert and Maxine Gilbert, which was located where Hawkins Insurance currently sits, and converted that to an appliance store.
A customer of Kent’s, Max Reno of Keosauqua, told Kent that he needed to get his real estate license, and in 1974, he opened his real estate business alongside his appliance business.
Martin sold the appliance business to focus on real estate.
“I put both feet in the real estate business late in 1974. We’ve enjoyed it a lot, and met a lot of nice people,” he said.
He recounted one particular sale
“When we were starting out, a lot of farmers were retiring and moving in town. I had three farmers in my office at the same, and it was small. They all wanted to buy the same house. I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
Things have changed over the years.
“Back then there were only 25-30 apartments in Kahoka. Now there are over 200. It really cut down on the number of houses for sale. Farm auctions have also become a lot more prevalent,” he added.
Over the years, Martin was deeply involved in Kiwanis, and served on the Board of Realtors for many years.
Martin and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 49 years.
For those readers who don’t know, Kent in quite a character, as shown in this Valentine’s Day, 2008 interview with The Media, the couple explained the unusual way they met.
The Martin’s relationship quite literally got off on the wrong foot when Kent stepped on Marilyn’s foot. Now a few months prior to stepping on her foot, Kent had asked Marilyn’s name and number of her boss at a bank in Quincy where Kent and his father did business, so he knew who she was.
Marilyn picks up the story from there, “We were both at a dance with other dates, but on the dance floor Kent came down on my foot. I thought I was going to die, it hurt so bad! My boyfriend at the time had to help me off the dance floor. I was almost in tears. My friends said, “Marilyn, do you know who that was out there?” My response was that I didn’t give a darn who it was, my foot is killing me and he’s responsible! And that was Kent.”
Kent denied that it was all part of a great plan of sweeper her off her feet.
Kent is a native of Clark County, while Marilyn was from Quincy, and it would be perhaps three months after getting off on the wrong foot, that Kent asked her out in 1962. They dated off and on for the next two years. Marilyn stated, “Kent was very big in the Kahoka drag strip and it seemed like every night he was working on his dragster. And I would come up every weekend and watch him race and pray that he wouldn’t crash. At least that’s how the summer went, as we never went out. If we were not at the track, then we were in the shop working on his car. I would stay at Kent’s grandmother’s house when I came up for the weekend.”
Kent added, “I had my head under the car hood all the time.”
The couple became engaged in June and Marilyn picks up the story, “I remember that he was working late and he called and said he would be down after work. I told him it was too late to drive to Quincy after he had gotten off work. But he insisted and said that he had something and he was leaving right now. He arrived in Quincy around 11:00 p.m. and I was reading when he walked in. He tossed a package towards me and said, “See how this works.” I opened it up and put my ring on and went in and woke my mom up to show her.
During the time I was talking to my mother, Kent fell asleep on the couch. I went back in a told my mother, “Mom, we are engaged and he’s asleep on the couch!” I didn’t wake him and instead I went on to bed and the next morning when I woke up he had already awakened and went back to Kahoka. That’s the way a lot of our courtship went in the summertime. And not much has changed as he gets home from work eats supper and falls asleep on the couch!”
The Martins were married in Quincy at the Union Methodist Church Marilyn attended and grew up in on December 19, 1964. They honeymooned in St. Louis and came back home to a mobile home in Kahoka. Kent had purchased a mobile home, which was to be delivered off a rail car at Sherwood elevator in Kahoka. When the home arrived three weeks before their marriage, it had been shot and had a number of bullet holes which ran through a couple of the rooms, including the bedroom. Because it was winter, the home had to be fixed before they could move into it.
Both Kent and Marilyn have also been supporters of Relay For Life, serving as the honorary co-chairs in 2007.
This week, Martin announced that he is closing his real estate busines, Ken-Mar Real Estate, due to his health. Martin will maintain his appraisal business, appraising Missouri farms and commercial properties, and run it from his office in Quincy.
“We’ve been happy with the way things have been going, but it is time,” he said.
“Dana (Justice) has been my right and left hand. Without any question, we could not have done it without her,” he added.
The Ken-Mar staff is joining McAfee Real Estate. LLC.
“Monte has been real good to work with,” Kent said. “Everything will work out fine.”
Monte McAfee, owner of McAfee Real Estate, added “The staff of McAfee Real Estate, LLC, would like to congratulate Kent & Marilyn Martin on 40 years of service and welcome Kent, Marilyn and their staff to our office.