Robb Kelley, the grandson of EMC President John A. Gunn, was born in Des Moines on Jan. 21, 1917. He began working at EMC with a degree from Dartmouth University (1938) and a year of law study. Kelley began as an underwriter trainee in the Wichita Branch in 1939. He transferred to credit and auto underwriting at the Home Office and was a field supervisor before serving in the army during WWII, stationed on an anti-aircraft artillery unit in California. After the war, he became a field supervisor in 1945 at the Omaha Branch before being sent to open the Philadelphia Branch.
EMC’s strong emphasis on continuing education, certifications and professional designations began when Kelley, then Philadelphia branch manager, became the first at EMC to earn certification as a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), a top professional insurance designation. After 10 years of building that office to serve Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, he was elected to the EMC board and returned to the Home Office as assistant superintendent of agencies. He rapidly climbed to the position of assistant vice president in 1957, secretary in 1959, and vice president and secretary in 1960, before becoming president in 1963.
Kelley was a large man in many ways: from his 6' 8" stature to his vision for EMC, his high energy, ambition and his accomplishments in the 19 years of his presidency. During his tenure, the company decentralized; doubled the number of branches; and added seven subsidiaries, a holding company and several real estate organizations. Business boomed with the introduction of multiline policies and EMC increased emphasis on large commercial accounts. Loss control services and office automation increased, and the 717 Mulberry Home Office was built. Even before he became president of EMC, Kelley worked closely with George Kochheiser, who succeeded him as president in 1982. Upon retiring as president in 1982, Kelley stayed on as chairman of the board, treasurer and chief executive officer. He gradually transferred these responsibilities to successors, ending with his retirement from the Board of Directors in 1996, when he was named Honorary Chairman. Robb Kelley passed away in 1997.