Ronald Kellam was born in Portland, Maine on October 21, 1928. His father, Robert Kellam, was a paperhanger and his mother, Freda Edith (Nelson) Kellam, raised their ten children. He grew up in a Democratic family, but they were not politically active. He served in the Army in Korea and attended Bates for one semester. He then joined the Navy for a year, but was discharged and attended Boston University Law School. He ran for State Legislature in 1958 after working as an attorney in Portland. He then ran for State Congress in 1962, 1966, and 1968. In 1968 and 1970 he ran for State Senate.
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Richard, Mike, "Kellam, Ronald oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 191.