By K5PO, on the scene
MERCERIA, Wisconsin — Marty Jacobs is a amateur radio operator. It’s his hobby and passion. A quick look around his “ham shack” indicates he’s invested a tremendous amount of time and money into his passion. Yes, Marty loves ham radio, but more than anything, he loves ham radio contests. That became apparent to his wife, Janelle, a long time ago.
Marty and Janelle met in 1991 while working at the local Dairy Queen. A fast courting period saw them married in June of 1993.
“I’m a hardcore contester,” Marty says with a knowing nod. “I mean, really hardcore. I’ll stay up for 48 hours or more without sleep to squeeze every possible contact out of a contest. I’m fueled by Mountain Dew and Monster Energy, man!”
It’s no surprise, given his commitment to contests, that the walls of Marty’s Merceria home are sprawled with awards and plaques. “Here’s my five band WAS and my WPX awards,” Marty says, pointing at walls around the house, eyes alight. “And here are my awards for the ARRL DX SSB contest! I’ve topped the 9 call district for 11 years in a row!”
Perhaps it’s also not a surprise that Marty’s personal life has taken a bit of a hit, given his focus on his hobby. “I guess I first started to notice that something was odd when the fridge seemed to be awfully empty. You know, like no one was restocking it.” He continues with sorrowful eyes, “And then the laundry kept piling up, and the dust, and the mail. But I guess I never really thought much about it all.”
It wasn’t until after the CQ WPX contest that he realized his wife had left him. “I walked out of the shack after the final minutes of the contest and the house just seemed quiet. I yelled ‘Janelle’ a few times like I usually do, but she doesn’t typically answer.”
Marty pauses for a moment, as he opens the mail and pulls out a new contest award. “It kinda made me wonder, you know? Where was she? So I headed out into the living room and noticed the couch was gone. And the TV. And most everything, I guess. And I… um… sorta forgot to feed the cat for a few years.”
On the dining room table, Marty found divorce papers signed by his wife in 1996. “I was shocked,” he said. “I mean, I guess I hadn’t seen her in a while, but it didn’t seem like that long. I just thought she must have been reading or something. Maybe got a hobby of her own.”