The Early Years

Seattle, Washington and Citrus Heights, California

James Frank Kellison, better know as Jim, was born in Seattle Washington on November 23,1932 to Mildred and Morris Kellison. Jim was the first of two sons born to the couple, his brother Donald was born four years later. Jim spent the first decade of his life in Seattle. His mother and father separated while living in Seattle and Mildred relocated with her two children to the community of Citrus Heights, California where Mildred’s mother, known as Grandma Thompson owned a home. Both the Thompson and Kellison families had originally come from the Billings, Montana area.

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Jim's first coupe.
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Jim Kellison age 18 at his mothers home in Citrus Heights, California in 1951

Mildred, Jim's mother, was a devout Seventh Day Adventist as was her mother before her. Jim never took well to religious indoctrination, and this may be what started him on a life long course of rebellion. He became in some ways the quintessential rebel without a cause, in the parlance of the 1950’s. It should be no surprise then that he took up hot rod racing during his teen years. During the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s, like a lot of teenagers from that era, Jim became very interested in hot rods. He modified his own coupe and began to take it road racing. Because of the talents he developed in auto shop and working on his own car, he took to body and fender work. After graduating from San Juan High School in 1950, Jim then eighteen, began working as a journeyman mechanic at a car dealership in Roseville, California.  He took the bus from his mother’s home in Citrus Heights to work each day. The bus was a local commuter that picked up and dropped off in the various smaller communities of the greater Sacramento area.

The drop off point in Roseville was at a bus terminal and coffee shop. That is where Jim met Sally Benson, the year was 1951 . Sally was working part time as a waitress at the coffee shop while attending Roseville High School, she was sixteen years old. Jim had made plans to join the Air Force prior to their meeting and was waiting to head off to basic training. It was during this interim that Jim and Sally decided to get married. Shortly thereafter Jim headed off to basic training.

Mildred Thompson-Kellison-Brown in 1925, Billings, Montana.
photo of Jim Kellison with model airplane

Jim showed an early aptitude for model building, especially model airplanes. He would build is own planes from balsa wood and then paint, detail and race them as shown here circa 1948 in Citrus Heights , California.

Jim And Mildred
Kellison Drawings