The Rollie Kelley Legacy
The Legacy and Vision of Rollie Kelley
Rollie Kelley knew how to take advantage of opportunities and turn them into successful ventures. He wanted Dakota
Wesleyan students, regardless of their chosen professions, to be entrepreneurs and leaders in their fields.
Because of his own entrepreneurial nature and the desire to nurture that spirit in young people, Rollie Kelley donated $1 million to DWU to establish the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship. Sadly, he died of a sudden heart attack before the center came to fruition.
Born in 1923 at Wagner, S.D., Kelley had the spirit of an entrepreneur early in life. After World War II and a college degree from Dakota Wesleyan in 1949, he went to work for a company in California learning the ropes of the box business. But it was his eagerness to be his own boss that led him to take a chance.
In 1963, with $3,000 and 6,000 square feet of space, he and two partners launched Colorado Container Corporation. Rollie served as the company’s CEO and chairman of the board until his death in 1999.
Rollie’s son, Bruce, said his father was not successful because he knew the box business, but because he knew how to take advantage of opportunities and he had an entrepreneurial spirit.
At a meeting on the DWU campus in early 1999, Rollie commented, “I am interested in providing an opportunity for young people who are in the same position I was in 60 years ago.”
For current and future DWU students with entrepreneurial spirits, Rollie Kelley’s legacy, the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship, will provide that opportunity.