1961 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"You should never give up on the goal in front of you."
Merl Kelce was the youngest of five children born to a Kansas coal miner. When his father sustained a serious injury in a mine, Kelce, who was only seven, joined his two older brothers in picking strawberries to help support the family. He graduated from high school in 1924 and became a coal miner in Oklahoma. He was soon promoted to payroll management and accounting. In 1936, he was transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, as general superintendent of mining operations for the Sinclair Coal Company. He and his brother borrowed money to open new mines, and in 1955 the Kelce holdings merged with the Peabody Coal Company. Peabody became the largest supplier of coal to the electric utility industry in the United States.* Deceased