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Ronald Lloyd Kellam

1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Ronald Lloyd Kellam Obituary
Ronald Lloyd Kellam, 87
PARACHUTE, Colo. - Ronald Lloyd Kellam died on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Antelope Valley, Calif. He died suddenly while engaging in one of his favorite activities, a transcontinental journey in his 1996 Ford Ranger pickup truck, exploring new country while his odometer registered 300,000 miles and climbing.
He was born in Portland on Oct. 21, 1928. His father, Robert Kellam, was a paperhanger, and his mother, Freda Edith (Nelson) Kellam, raised ten children. Ron was the fifth of ten children.
Ron recounted years later that his mother said his first words were, "Vote for Al Smith." Ron acknowledged that, since Al Smith lost the 1928 Presidential election several weeks after he was born, this might have been maternal exaggeration. But those who knew Ron, and knew of his ability to talk, knew that it was only a mild exaggeration.
He grew up in Portland during the Depression, and attended the North School from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then Portland High School. After graduating from high school, he served in the Army in Korea for two years, attended Bates College on the G.I. bill, served in the Navy for a year, then attended Boston University and Boston University Law School. He credited J. Weston Walsh, who taught commercial law at Portland High, with getting him interested in the law and encouraging him to think of it as a possible career.
While studying law in Boston, he met a young nurse from Arkansas named Floye Hazel Shannon. They were married at Park Street Church in Boston in 1952. They moved back to Portland after college, and Ron started trying to develop a private law practice. He met a Portland lawyer named Walter Murrell who gave him a spot in his firm and some office space, and who was to become a lifelong friend and mentor.
In 1958, he began a career in Maine state politics by successfully running for a seat in the state legislature. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1962, and reentered the Maine Legislature in 1968. In 1974, he was appointed to a District Court judgeship by Governor Kenneth Curtis. He served as a judge until he retired in 1988.
To listen to Ron talk was to gain entrance to the world of Maine Democratic politics from the 1950s through the 1980s. His conversation was sprinkled with accounts of people he had known and liked: from Ed Muskie and Ken Curtis to Joe Brennan and George Mitchell. But a special place was reserved in his conversation and, it seemed obvious, in his heart, for Gerard P. Conley.
Ron Kellam was a larger-than-life figure. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. As he became the oldest surviving sibling, he took seriously his role as custodian of the family, and was a devoted attendant of weddings and funerals, and an avid visitor to family members no matter how far-flung: from Hartford, Syracuse and Florida to Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Jose, and Portland, Oregon. There was no more devoted tender of family graves around Memorial Day in Portland each spring.
His "lovely girl" Hazel died in 1995. After a difficult period of mourning, Ron, as was his nature, embraced the rest of his life. He met Olive Sherman on an Elderhostel trip in 2000, and they were companions until her death in 2013. Ron's time with Olly expanded his world and renewed his life. They enjoyed years of hiking in Colorado, socializing with their many friends, and travelling to distant parts of the globe.
Ron Kellam possessed a powerful intellect and an intense curiosity about the world around him. He had a deep sense of the sadness of life, but he knew that tragedy cannot be separated from comedy, and he had a monumental sense of humor, much of which he trained on himself.
Perhaps what will be missed about him most is the sound of him laughing and the sight of him living life to the fullest.
A longtime member of Woodfords Congregational Church, he also was a member of the Masons and the Elks.
He is survived by his three children, Linda, of Minneapolis; Steve, of San Jose, Calif.;, and Janice, of Portland, Ore. He is also survived by his three grandchildren, Margaret, David, and Tim; and by his brothers, Jim Kellam of West Hartford, Conn., and Tom Vail of Vero Beach, Fla.
Services in June will be announced at a later date.

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram from Mar. 6 to Mar. 7, 2016
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