Alumni at a Glance: Dan Kellams ’58
Biographer, memoirist, freelance writer and editor, public relations consultant, and Army information specialist—what do all these honorific titles have in common? You can assign every last one of them to an accomplished Cornell College graduate of the Class of 1958, Dan Kellams.
Dan Kellams ’58 moved from Cornell to New York City to attend Columbia University Journalism School after graduation. He got some help from Cornell and Professor of English Robert P. Dana before he left. Kellams’ time at Columbia was funded by the Lydia Roberts Fellowship for Iowa students that he won after being nominated by Cornell.
After earning his master’s in journalism from Columbia University, Kellams was drafted into the Army and served as an information specialist at West Point. Then he and his wife traveled through Europe on $5 a day as he wrote articles for The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Eventually, he became an editor for Radio Free Europe in Munich.
Next up, they returned to New York, where Kellams embarked on a 50-year career in public relations and as a freelance writer and editor.
“I created and managed publicity surrounding two extraordinary expeditions, a mountain climbing trek around Everest and a jungle traverse in Borneo, as well as several seasons of speed skiing,” Kellams said. “I got to know several renowned mountaineers and adventurers who taught me a lot about living fearlessly.”
He bore witness (from the inside) to the slow collapse of the fabled E.F. Hutton. He created, edited, and wrote a global newsletter for Reebok that won a top industry prize, and he created an employee relations program for Citibank that was similarly honored. He also wrote dozens of thought leadership papers for PricewaterhouseCoopers, addressing complex problems corporations face.
Kellams says his achievement through all of this was “surviving, even succeeding, in a very tough market for freelance writers.”
After his retirement, he published two books set in his hometown of Marion, Iowa—the biography, “A Coach’s Life: Less Hipple and the Marion Indians,” and the memoir, “Mistaken for a King: Sketches of a Small-Town Boyhood.”
His fondest memories of Cornell are when he worked on The Cornellian, the yearbook, and acted in plays. You can find Kellams actively still participating in Cornell life as a member of the Board of Directors of Cornell’s Alumni Association.