Kellogg Serves Up Justice for His Clients 3/12/15 03/12/15 12:10:32 AM
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Don’t let John Kellogg talk you into a friendly game of tennis – he’ll probably mop up the court with your sweatband. He’s equally formidable in the court of law.
Kellogg Serves Up Justice for His Clients
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record
If asked to describe John H. Kellogg Jr. in three words, they would probably be:
Professional, Devout and Funny. Very Funny.
He throws out puns right and left. He refers to himself as “corny” and “flakey.” (Kellogg – get it?) When this interview started, this reporter asked him to differentiate between the true statements and the flights of fancy.
It’s no wonder he’s still practicing law at age 77. No one in the office wants him to leave.
He founded Kellogg & Palzer, P.C., in 1998, when his former intern, Jeff Palzer, joined him. Before that, John had run a solo practice since 1973.
Tennis, Anyone?John Kellogg Jr. was born in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 28, 1938. At age 23, his father, John Sr., became the second wrestling coach in the history of the University of Nebraska. His mother, from a family of eight children, emigrated from England.
John no doubt inherited his love of sports from his father. John’s chosen sport was not wrestling however – it was tennis. In fact, he served as a tennis coach for six of the seven years he spent at Creighton University earning his B.S.B.A. and J.D. “I made many court appearances,” he deadpanned.
To this day, he plays tennis about three times a week.
He now participates in the USTA seniors league, and his team has gone all the way to nationals. One of his partners is fellow Omaha attorney Paul Comeau. In 2007 he took home a singles first place trophy, which has a place in his law office along with pictures of friends and family and piles of case files.
Tennis is the not the only sport he loves.
“I’ve attended nearly all Nebraska home football games since I was about five,” John said. “I went to all the games, home and away, during their championship year.” (He didn’t specify which one.)
Preparing for LifeWhile at Creighton, he became a member of the accounting honorary society of Beta Alpha Psi and the Jesuit Honorary Society of Alpha Sigma Nu. He joined Alpha Kappa Psi and Phi Alpha Delta, the legal fraternity.
And he joined ROTC. He was commissioned and assigned to Army Intelligence (an oxymoron, he explained). Promoted to first lieutenant while in law school, he was by his own admission “a terrible soldier.”
He got one good lesson out of his service though. He taught investigators how to interview. “I had to stand up in front of my colleagues and talk. It was good experience for my legal career.”
He was a captain by the time he left the Army.
Even though back then law school only cost about $825 a year and he had a scholarship, he still had to work to make money for expenses. He worked at Brandeis, earning a dollar for each charge account he opened. “I made good money. I got all my fellow students to take the application home.”
His powers of persuasion were evident even then. He noted it was also good practice for law school. While at Brandeis, “I handled suits and worked with briefs,” he explained. (Ba da bump!)
Then there was the job at Storz Brewery. “I handled more cases there than at any time in my legal career,” John said with a straight face.
Living His FaithWhile he was studying at Creighton University, he became good friends with attorney Jack Chapman. Besides making lifelong friends, he also got to know some of the Jesuits there well. “Fr. [Richard] McGloin was great. And Fr. [James] Quinn,” he said.
Over the years, John also came to admire as prosecutors Marty Conboy and Gary Buccino as well as Creighton’s Fr. Larry Gillick.
The Jesuits’ influence surely rubbed off and ignited in John a lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church and many of Her organizations of social action.
He has been active in the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm that raises awareness of the integrity of family and religious liberty; Pride Omaha (Parent/Community Drug Prevention); Stephen’s Center; Omaha for Decency; the Social Justice Committee of the Omaha Archdiocese; the Serra Club of West Omaha; Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research; the Bishops Pro-Life Pastoral Association; the Manota Simon Foundation; S.I.D.S.; and Business & Professional People for Life. In many of the organizations, he has served or is serving on their board and as their legal advisor.
He’s also legal advisor for the Omaha Clay Courts Association and the Omaha Tennis Association.
“I just love to get into groups,” he said with as much enthusiasm as he obviously puts into each of his causes. He is nearly as enthusiastic about his Maltipom (Maltese Pomeranian) pup.
Of course, much of his enthusiasm is reserved for his family. He and his wife, Mary Ann, a nurse at CHI Health, had seven children. Son Joseph is a very successful lawyer and wealth-planning executive in Miami. Daughter Christine Kellogg Henningsen (married to Omaha attorney Josh Henningsen) is a Juvenile Justice staff attorney at Nebraska Court Improvement Project. Of his other living children, Theresa (Terri), Jeanine and Dan, two are CPAs. Each child has given John and Mary Ann three grandchildren.
“I’ve seen quite a few dance recitals in my time,” he said. “I don’t really care if I see another one, but … now there are the grandchildren …,” his voice trailed off.
The couple had two other children who died tragically. Two-year-old Patricia died of a mishap on play equipment in their backyard; Jeffrey died in a car accident in 1992, three weeks before his graduation from Creighton Prep.
How do parents weather such a thing?
“Faith,” John said. “We only have them for a certain amount of time. It’s in God’s hands.”
Legal CareerHis legal career commenced at Hotz, Hotz, Byam and Taylor (and various versions thereof). “I made $2,400 a year, plus a third of my cases’ [judgments],” he said.
His colleagues over the years included Bill Hotz, Monte Taylor, Joe Moylan and Clayton Byam, and later, Jack Chapman, John Wilke, Jerry Merwald, Bill Craig, Dick Welling and Dan Ryberg.
As time went on, John moved his office west from downtown to 121st and Pacific, to Paul Comeau’s building at 69th and Mercy Road, to 90th and Dodge, and finally to his current address at 10828 Old Mill Road, where he and Palzer now practice. Another attorney and good friend of John’s, Larry Dwyer, also makes his office in that building.
John recalled that his first jury trial resulted in an award that was twice what he had asked for, giving him confidence that he had chosen the right profession.
“I’ve had a pretty good career,” he said. “You’ve got to know your limitations and know when to bring in experts.
“We do mostly civil law,” he said. “We have some trials, but most cases are settled.
“I like the diversity, and the personal aspect of the business, handling things like estate planning and probate and small business and domestic cases. But adoptions are my favorite. Everybody wins in those.”
The consummate gentleman, he introduced this reporter around the office, anxious to show off the talented people working there, all the while dropping bad pun after bad pun, to the delight (along with a little eye-rolling) of all.
If you visit the firm’s website (www.kelloggpalzer.com), you’ll notice most of the testimonials are about Jeff. They are both great lawyers, but John prefers to let his partner have the spotlight, another of his admirable traits.
John Kellogg is clearly a man of integrity, wisdom and wit – attributes all lawyers can and should aspire to master. Kellogg is a credit to the Nebraska State and Omaha Bar Associations.