Keith and Jean Kellogg:
An Uncommon Couple with the Common Touch
By Jeanne Lott
He grew up in a cereal factory; she grew up in her father's
grocery store. He went to a college founded for local lumberjacks;
she attended business school. Before they were married in
1968, they had known each other for nearly 30 years. An apparently
common couple, Janet ("Jean") and W. Keith Kellogg II are
Gazing at the vintage Kellogg's cereal boxes that line the
office walls of their Rancho Santa Fe home, the Kelloggs remark
on the children's faces on the earliest boxesthe solemn
and decidedly adult expressions seem to reflect not only the
state of childhood in the early 1900s, but also the nature
of the man behind the product, cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg.
Keith Kellogg remembers his grandfather as a stern man with
firm notions about childrearing, a man who valued the rare
commodity of common sense and passed his values on to his
progeny. By the age of 12, under his grandfather's tutelage,
young Keith was at work in the Kellogg factory in Battle Creek,
Michigan, where he got a hands-on education in every department,
from product testing and development to the milling room,
toaster ovens, and packaged product.
In 1929, Keith was playing jazz saxophone at Philadelphia's
Carlton Hotel, but Grandfather Kellogg, who thought "jazz
was evil music," suggested that his grandson go to Chicago
to bolster some of the family's struggling business ventures.
"I found 1,500 unemployed musicians in Chicago, so I had to
go to work," Keith recalls.
And go to work he did. His father, John, had pioneered the
use of waxed paper in 1915, an innovation known as "WaxTite"
that was a hit with consumers. Keith purchased the Kellogg
packaging company, now known as General Packaging Products,
and put to use the hands-on, common-sense teachings of his
granddad. Today his son, William Keith Kellogg III, is its
Keith Kellogg has followed the senior Kellogg's lead in
other ways as well. W.K. Kellogg " invested his money in people,"
Keith notes. In a newly industrialized America infamous for
its unenlightened working conditions, W.K. pioneered many
progressive labor policies, including an eight-hour work day,
a minimum wage, a nursery for the children of his workers,
and a program of health care and physical exams for his employees.
In the 1930s, he funded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, reportedly
retaining just a fraction of his fortune for his own use.
In 1938, he gave his 800-acre ranch in Pomona, his herd of
registered Arabian horses, and an endowment of $600,000 to
the University of California, eventually establishing at the
ranch site Cal Poly Pomona. This relationship has continued
throughout the Kellogg generations. (Keith and Jean Kellogg
provided funding for Cal Poly's Art Gallery; Keith Kellogg
was co-chair of its $50 million capital building campaign
in the late 1980s, and in 1994 he was awarded an honorary
Doctorate of Humane Letters degree.)
When Keith's father, John, died in 1950, the John and Helen
Kellogg Foundation was established. After Helen's death in
1978, the foundation trustees began to distribute the $40
to $50 million in assets. Administered by Keith Kellogg, the
foundation has made several major gifts, naming the Kellogg
Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University,
establishing the School of International Studies at Notre
Dame, and funding programs at Cal-Poly, the Kellogg Cancer
Care Center in Evanston, Illinois, and the National Center
for Excellency in Nursing at Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center
in Chicago, among other institutions.
As for their own giving, the Kelloggs eschew flashy projects
for those they think "make good sense." In fact, the couple's
very first gift to Scripps couldn't have been more sensible.
Discovering at an early President's Council luncheon that
organ transplant researchers had no place to store the blood,
the Kelloggs bought them a couple of second-hand refrigerators.
Over the years, the two have been ardent supporters of Scripps
Memorial Hospital-Encinitas, "our local hospital," having
provided major funding for the emergency room, the rehabilitation
and stroke center, and a senior transport van.
"We like to help SMH-Encinitas in part because, after all,
it is our emergency facility," says Jean Kellogg, describing
the genesis of their involvement with SMH-Encinitas in 1977
when an allergy attack sent her husband to Encinitas' emergency
At TSRI, their major gifts have included establishing an
endowed chair in chemistry, contributing funds to acquire
land for the Lusk Research campus, and making a significant
commitment toward the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for
Most recently, the Kelloggs have supported TSRI's graduate
college, which was named the Kellogg School of Science and
Technology last month in their honor.
"We've gotten involved in Scripps to the depth that we have
just because it's so interesting," explains Keith. "We meet
so many super people."
TSRI has named its graduate college
the Kellogg School of Science and Technology in honor of Janet
("Jean") Kellogg and W. Keith Kellogg II.