Biography of George C. Kelber
San Francisco, CA Biographies





GEORGE C. KELBER
Although George C. Kelber is now engaged with outstanding success in the investment securities business in San Francisco, as a member of Abry, Kelber & Company, he is likewise known upon the entire coast as a leading authority on marine insurance and steamship claims, and as an author and speaker upon these and kindred subjects. He was born in Winona, Minnesota, March 18, 1885, and is a son of the late William C. and Wilna (Roedeskil) Kelber.

William C. Kelber was born in Berlin, Germany, and came to the United States after the close of the Civil war. He settled in Winona, Minnesota, where he first followed agricultural pursuits, then building, and there remained until his death in 1890, when he was forty five years old. His wife was a native of Breslau, the capital of the province of Silesia, Prussia, and came to Minnesota in the late '60s. By her marriage to William C. Kelber, she was the mother of two children: Gertrude, who is the wife of August C. Jansen, of Lind, Washington; and George C.

George C. Kelber attended the public schools until he reached the eighth grade in his home town, and then when only twelve years old was faced with the necessity of earning his own living, a heavy task for a lad of his age, but one which he accepted with a courage characteristic of him. He was first employed on the cattle ranch of his brother in law in Washington, and when fourteen years old he began doing manual labor for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He worked on the section near Lind, Washington, and soon thereafter found work in the railroad warehouse in that community. While so engaged, he found opportunity to learn telegraphy, which claimed his attention for a number of years afterward. He was a telegrapher in many towns of the United States, having worked for twenty one different railroads during this period of travel. In 1906, he became connected with the Southern Pacific Railroad, beginning as a telegrapher and working his way up to general agent and terminal train master, with his headquarters in Deming, New Mexico. At the time of the World war, he was the youngest agent in th service, and during the exciting war days he had charge of the El Paso & Southwestern traffic and the Southern Pacific Railroad trains. He handled thousands of troops and also freight for the military authorities. In 1918, he resigned from this work and, with his family, came to San Francisco, where he accepted a position as general claim agent for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, with supervision over this company's entire world service, and of their fifty five vessels, and under his management were nearly one hundred employes, many of them in distant corners of the globe. In 1925, he resigned from this position, and established himself in the marine cargo subrogation business, in which he represented about sixteen marine underwriters, also thirty five or forty prominent import and export firms. His was the only organized business of its kind in San Francisco at that time, and he met with success from the beginning, and became an acknowledged authority on matters pertaining to insurance claims and other shipping problems.

In 1925, Mr. Kelber wrote and published a booklet of thirty five pages entitled Pitfalls and Suggestions in Ocean Shipping, Insurance, and Adjustment of Cargo Claims, which publication is now generally used by steamship and traffic men in the United States as a guide. Mr. Kelber states his purpose in writing the book as follows: "Notwithstanding the constant and consistent precautions exercised, and effort expended on the part of Steamship Carriers generally, unfortunate accidents and the fallibility of man, at times create situations resulting in serious loss and damage, not only to the carrier, but his friend and supporter, the shipper, and through these the insurer, and probably ultimately through the freight rates, the owner of the goods, and consumer. While it is not intended in this booklet to treat exhaustively with the many situations which may from time to time confront those interested, it is my thought that in recounting a few briefs and opinions which in my many years experience in shipping and in the adjustment of every class of claim had made themselves conspicuous because of their association with losses, and the means of adjustment, a service from a preventive standpoint would be rendered." Mr. Kelber has also become extensively known as a speaker upon the above subjects, and he has addressed many of the foreign trade bodices.

In the latter part of 1928, Mr. Kelber dissolved his shipping claim business, and then established the firm of Abry, Kelber Company, which he has rapidly brought to the front in San Francisco and which is now situated in suite 305, at 405 Montgomery street.

On January 15, 1911, in Lordsburg, New Mexico, Mr. Kelber was married to Miss Treasy May Cappleman, who was born May 12, 1889, near Dallas, Texas, and is a daughter of James A. and Minerva (Hightower) Cappleman. Her father was a native of South Carolina, and a pioneer settler in Texas; her mother was of Scotch descent. Mr. and Mrs. Kelber are the parents of four children, namely: James Thornwell, who was born in Deming, New Mexico, December 25, 1912; Mildred Lucille, who was born in Los Angeles, August 28, 1913; Byrd Wilna, who was born in Los Angeles, February 12, 1918; and Grace Helen, whose birth occurred in Alameda, California, July 29, 1921. The Kelber family residence is situated at 1236 Bay street in the city of Alameda, California.

Mr. Kelber is a thirty second degree member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Deming Lodge, No. 12, A. F. and A. M., in Deming, New Mexico, in which he was senior warden; to the Oakland Consistory; and to Aahmes Temple of the Mystic Shrine in Oakland. He is a loyal member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and at the polls has customarily given his vote to the republican candidates. He is a Protestant in his religious belief. He deserves much credit for the persistent effort he has made through the years to improve his status in life, and his success, both in business and in his relations with his fellowmen, is only a just reward for his labors.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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