Terry Kellum has worked a lot of different in his 50 years of working in Starkville. Just a few weeks ago, he finally decided it was time to retire for good.
He originally started as a bread truck driver in 1960 before serving as a supervisor for the Mississippi State University laundry and dry cleaning plant from 1962-66. He then began a 31-year career in the postal service as one of Starkville's mail carriers until 1997, when he started a six-year stint as an Oktibbeha County receiving clerk. He served the county as the supervisor of District 3 from 2003-07.
But Kellum said one of his favorite jobs was his last one as a shuttle cart driver for OCH Regional Medical Center, where he began working in 2009. He drove a golf cart around for the elderly and disabled, but said he also found there were children of people spending time at the hospital's wellness center who enjoyed the occasional ride. He also always kept peppermint candies on standby for them.
"I told them when I went to work out there that I might not be the best employee they ever had but I'd try to be the best public relations man because I was definitely sold in the hospital and committed to it," Kellum said. "I enjoyed transporting the kids around because they were so energetic, and I kept the treats for them just to see them light up when they saw me coming."
He said he really enjoyed the opportunity he had to serve OCH.
"When I first worked at OCH I thought about how fortunate I was that the Lord placed me there. For me it was just what I needed, and I thought it was all about me, but after about three or four days out in the parking lot and meeting people who were not only hurting physically but in their heart, people who had family problems or health issues they were having a hard time dealing with," Kellum said. "I realized there was a ministry there where I could probably be in a position to help a lot of people if I would take advantage of it, so I tried to do that while I was there."
In his longest-term job as a mail carrier, he served as the president of the Mississippi Letter Carrier Association from 1989-93. Kellum said he enjoyed getting to meet the citizens of Starkville while on his route.
"(I enjoyed) just being out on the street visiting the patrons as I made the rounds and getting to know them personally ... We became familiar with our people, knew their habits and were always on the lookout for them," he said. "I had an instance one time where I had an elderly patron I had gotten used to seeing every day and didn't see her on this particular day. I rang the doorbell, knocked and she didn't come to the door but I heard her say something to me in the background. I called out to her again and found she had fallen in her house and broken a hip. I called her daughter ... she called the ambulance and I stayed there to make sure her mother was OK until somebody got there, then I went ahead and completed my route."
From his childhood in the Self Creek community, Kellum has always been an Oktibbeha County man. His older brother, Jessie Morris Kellum, served the county as a paratrooper in World War II and was killed in Normandy. While he was serving as receiving clerk in 2002, he decided to run for the county's board of supervisors when he realized he might have an opportunity to give back to the community.
"What made me want to run was I realized there was going to be a change one way or the other at that point in the election. I decided to throw my hat in the ring and see if I could be the person who initiated that change," Kellum said. "What I liked most about (being a supervisor) was being in a position where I could do things for the county and people that I would not have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I tried to make sure I was legal in everything I did and make sure it benefitted the taxpayers. Anything I did then, if I had to do over, I'd probably do it the same way."
Kellum and his wife of 47 years, Sue, are now preparing for the next phase of their lives as they begin moving to their daughter Jan's house in Huntersville, N.C. Kellum said he and Sue Kellum are looking forward to spending more time with Jan, their other two children, Gary and Piercy, and their eight grandchildren.
"I told someone I guess we'd go up there an stay until we wore out our welcome or ran out of food," he said.
He said his Christian faith and values are the backbone of what made him successful in all his roles while working in Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State University.
"I've always tried to live my life in a way that represented the Lord I tried to serve and also represented the kind of background I grew up in," he said.