The accordion lady

An 84-year-old woman from Fergus Falls, MN made headlines years ago, and she hasn’t stopped inspiring people since.

An interview with Yvonne Marts more than 20 years ago drew national attention to her story. She retired from her 42-year-long teaching career to go back to college in 1994. She wanted to learn how to fix accordions.

Since that interview a lot has changed.

Marts, more commonly known as “that accordion lady” has kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids. At 84, she’s still working. “A lot of women I am afraid don’t follow their heart,” she says.

Mart’s is one of the few women who takes apart accordions, figures out what’s wrong, and puts them back together. “Not heard of,” she says. That’s why she got so much attention when she quit teaching, and went back to college again.

“More women should be understanding that they can do whatever they want to,” says Marts.

Due to all the attention in the news, Marts says she is now fixing accordions for people all over the county. She gained multiple contracts, including Fargo Parks, and has met all kinds of people.

Marts says after the interview, her phone rang and rang. Some people wanted to learn from her, others wanted their accordions fixed, and one person recognized her.

Marts says a relative called just days after the story ran. “I saw your story on TV and I called the TV station and I got your name and number, and I was just sure we are related.” She says, explaining the woman over the phone. “And as it turns out, her mother and my father-in-law were brother and sister.”

The woman on the phone sent her pictures her family from long ago, and pictures that finished a family history book Marts put together. “It was pretty cool,” she says.

Twenty years ago she followed a dream, and Marts is still dreaming. She has lots of advice for people, especially for women. “We can never be ashamed of doing our best. So, that’s how I live.” She says while laughing.

In addition to writing her own music, Marts has written several books. One of them is about her philosophy on life, where every entry starts with, “to be a woman.” You won’t find it on any shelves, but Marts says she will make you a copy if you ask.

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