Hope C. Martin was born in Waterloo in 1875 and would eventually become one of the city’s most prominent merchants. Hope received a public education, and when his father passed away while he was in 8th grade, Hope began to sell loaves of bread for a nickel to help support his family. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that led him to start Martin Bros. Co., a wholesale distributing business, in 1897. He also owned half a dozen candy and tobacco retail outlets in Iowa, mostly in the lobbies of downtown hotels, such as the Russell Lamson and President Hotels in Waterloo. Hope took most of the profits from his retail and wholesale businesses to reinvest in the community, purchasing about 20 downtown buildings as well as 5 farms in Black Hawk County.
Hope was not only dedicated to his wholesale business, but also to many community organizations, including being a charter member of the Elk’s Club, supporting such causes as The Salvation Army and Christ Episcopal Church, and in 1910 Hope started the Goodfellows Club, which at Christmas provided food and toys to the less fortunate.
Upon Hope’s death in 1948, his only daughter, Faye Dorothy Martin Anderson, took over the family’s business interests. Faye Dorothy had previously been a Broadway actress and had also been featured in several films as well as modeling professionally in New York, Chicago, and California. She moved back to her hometown of Waterloo and eventually built her family’s company up to produce over 8 million dollars in annual sales as well as employing over 40 members of the community. Faye Dorothy also took over ownership and gained ownership of many downtown buildings and popular local businesses. Faye’s many accomplishments did not go unnoticed, as she was the recipient of many awards, including Outstanding Business Woman Athena Award, the AMVETS Signal Award, and she was the first female recipient of the Service to Mankind Award from the Sertoma Club.
Faye Dorothy had a passion for giving back to the community, as her father had decades before her. She was an avid animal lover, and was President of the Waterloo Humane Society at one time. Having been an actress and model herself, Faye Dorothy was also passionate about the local theatre and generously donated funds to build the Hope Martin Theatre in 1965, which remains a home to productions of the Waterloo Community Playhouse as well as the Black Hawk Children’s Theater. In addition, Faye Dorothy donated the land for Hope Martin Park located on Fletcher Avenue in Waterloo.
Both Faye Dorothy and Hope C. Martin were innovators in their field and were committed not only to their community, but also loyal to their employees. Their word was as good as a signed contract and they negotiated many business deals on a simple handshake. Their impact on the local business economy as well as their contributions to the community will be a lasting legacy in the Cedar Valley.