Out On His Own

The Air Force Years 1951-1954

Jim began his basic training in Texas, in 1951, after basic training he was stationed in Tucson, Arizona. It was here that his first son, David was born, in 1953. During 1953 the squadron Jim was attached to was moved to Mountain Home in Boise, Idaho.

It was in 1954 that Jim’s Air Force career came to a close. Jim’s dad Morris Kellison owned a large farm in the country outside of Oakville, Washington. He had a heart condition and it became increasingly difficult for him to manage the farm on is own.
Jim left the air force on a hardship case at this time, honorably discharged, in order to help his dad take care of the farm.

Jim Donkellisonmay52ca_clipped U439
Jiminuniform U458 V2
Jim in uniform and with his brother Donald at their mother's home in Citrus Heights, California, May 1952

His First Business Ventures 1954-1958

As it turned out Jim was not much of a farm hand and Morris decided to sell the place. Jim moved his family off the farm and into the small town of Oakville. Jim decided to open, what would become for him the first of many businesses. In a small building that was part of a gas station complex he started a body and fender shop, he was 22 years old. Unfortunately the town proved to be to small at that time to effectively support him and his small family. Jim found a site in nearby Centralia and moved the shop there. It was during the time in Centralia that a second son, Steven, was born in the nearby town of Chehalis in 1955. The body and fender business proved to be difficult so Jim closed his shop and took a job working at a more established body and fender shop in the area. However Jim was not satisfied with the pay and made a decision to move back to Citrus Heights, California.

Back in California again, Jim took a job at Macario Motors, a car dealership in the town of Roseville, working as a body and Fender man. With a growing family, Jim felt the need to increase his income.  With his air force experience he was able to land a job working on the flight line at Travis Air Force base in the town of Fairfield, California.  And so once again the family moved, this time to the nearby town of Vacaville. It was about this time that he was exposed to one of the new wonder materials of that era, fiberglass. It was also in a small garage adjacent to the house in Vacaville that Jim began work on his very first car design, a design that would eventually launch the J car series.

Kellison Drawings