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Laughing for 308 Dog Years: Jane & Marty Abo

However serious work or other parts of life get, humor is the mortar that holds together this couple’s sanctuary.

Marty and Jane on their classic car sofa.
Marty and Jane on their classic car sofa.Read moreCourtesy of the couple

As Jane considered her dinner options, a corner of the very large menu slipped a bit too far into the romantic candlelight.

“I came back from the bathroom to see a guy throwing a pitcher of water on my date,” said Marty.

After a moment of shocked silence, the very-soaked Jane burst into laughter. Soon, Marty was laughing, too. That night in 1974 was their first date, but “life’s been like that for the past 45 years,” said Jane.

Marty, who grew up on Long Island, was earning his master’s in taxation from C.W. Post, where Jane, a theater major from South Jersey, was finishing her bachelor of arts. They met at a party thrown by Marty and his housemates. Jane, who came with a group of undergraduate women, noticed Marty right away. “He looked like he was fun, and just full of life,” said Jane, so she asked him out.

The next day, Marty knew he had accepted a date with one of the women, but the drinks of the night before had erased her name. “I asked around, and a mutual friend gave me Jane’s number and I called her.”

Both fell instantly in like. Marty, already working for an international, New York City-based accounting firm, gauged their geographic compatibility. Jane told him she’s from Moorestown, which his New Yorker ears heard as Morristown. “That didn’t sound bad — only an hour away. Then I went to her college graduation, which was when I found out there was life below Exit 7,” he joked.

Soon after graduating, Jane decided her acting was going nowhere and found a job with a food broker. For a year, she and Marty took turns traveling north or south on weekends. On a weekend in March 1976, at his house on Long Island, Marty handed her a matchbook he had picked up years before. “Move up, be an accountant,” it read. Marty made a meaningful edit so Jane read: “Move up. Marry an accountant.” She said yes, and he gave her a ring.

That Nov. 14, they held a traditional Jewish ceremony and a black-tie celebration for about 250 people at what was then the Cherry Hill Hyatt. When Marty stepped on the fabric-covered glass, it didn’t break. They would later learn his friends had replaced the easy-to-break light bulb often used in the ceremony with a shot glass. He stomped on it, then jumped on it twice. Nothing. “Screw it,” he thought, and kissed the bride.

Jane left the food brokerage to work in the travel industry. Then, when sons Benjamin and Zachary were teens, she became a teacher’s aide at their high school, Cherry Hill East. Jane had been working in the front office for several years when the Sandy Hook shooting took place and changed everything. It became part of her job to evaluate visitors and decide whether it was safe to allow them in.

Marty left the big international accounting firm to work for what was then a small local one in South Jersey. He eventually founded his own, which has since evolved into Abo and Company, LLC / Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics in Mount Laurel. “I have a very private professional life — I can’t even talk about it with her,” he said of Jane. “I see so much financial ruin, death, divorce, and people who are so unhappy.”

However serious work or other parts of life get, humor is the mortar that holds together this couple’s sanctuary.

“We’ve been married 308 dog years,” jokes Marty. “That’s 16,305 days as of this conversation.”

While his humor tends toward playfully acerbic one-liners, hers often emerges through the whimsical art and artifacts she collects, such as the “Trophy Husband” cap she bought for Marty.

She does see him as a treasure: “He’s a great father. He’s generous. He’s family-oriented. He’s a fun person to spend time with,” said Jane. Marty laughs because he finds the cap ironic. He’s always found her gorgeous, and the better he knew her, the more gorgeous he found her. He loves her sensitive side, a balancing force to his pragmatism. “She really is something to be proud of,” he said. “She would be a great second wife.”

More of Jane’s visual whimsy decorates the couple’s home, from the sofa built into the back of a ’50s classic car and the inside-out great room of their home, where the awnings face indoors over a streetscape that includes a traffic light, parking meters, and fire hydrants. The space has held gatherings for friends, family, and charitable fund-raisers. The space is all Jane’s vision, but it’s been put together with Marty’s encouragement and help. One of his favorite things is to surprise her with something she’s mentioned in passing. “It can be something so small, like a toy, and she just gets so excited about it, which makes it so fun for me,” he said.

A video done by the New Jersey State Society of CPAs to highlight the lighter side of a forensic accountant gained national attention. Marty, now 71, still works. He loves his job of solving financial puzzles to help people resolve disputes. “I can see myself doing this one day from assisted living,” he says.

Jane, now 68, loved her job, too. She retired about a year and a half ago but enters sweepstakes and contests like it’s her job. She’s entered as many as 12,000 in a single year and has won everything from playoff tickets to dinners to a weeklong trip in California Wine Country to basketballs.

They give most of the items to charities or charity auctions, such as those held by Deborah Heart and Lung Center — Marty is a board member of the hospital’s foundation.

Marty wants you to know they report every bit of it on their taxes.

Together, they like to spoil dogs Colombo and Natie, eat, and travel, and, whenever possible, spend time with their sons. Benjamin is a doctor based in Naples, Fla., who frequently responds to emergency situations, including disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Surfside, Fla., condo collapse. Zach, who works for singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias, is based in L.A.

“I love his sense of humor,” Jane said of Marty, with a bit of mischief in her voice, “but I think I’m funnier than he is.”

They both laughed at that.