“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Amarillo in Potter County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Jack B. Kelley

Helium Entrepreneur

— 1916-1980 —

Jack B. Kelley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Kirchner, November 19, 2015
1. Jack B. Kelley Marker
Inscription.  Amarillo's status as the “Helium Capital of the World” can be traced back to the efforts of one man, Jack B. Kelley.

Kelley was born in 1916 in Sherman, Texas and moved to Amarillo in 1925. He attended Amarillo High School and in 1941 went on to serve in World War II in the U.S. Navy. He left the service in 1945 as a chief petty officer. A young entrepreneur with a big dream, Jack B. Kelley parlayed his $500 separation pay from the Navy into a conglomerate of corporations that do business on a global scale.

In 1946, he became the first civilian to secure a government contract to purchase and transport helium. Jack then began supplying helium to a welding research firm, a toy balloon manufacturer in New York City and various carnivals and circuses that traveled throughout the greater Texas Panhandle.

In 1960 with the expansion of the space program, the demand for helium heightened to new levels. To meet that need Jack designed and patented tube trailers that maximized load capacity and transportation efficiency; by the 1970s, he was manufacturing 95 percent of the tube trailers in the United States.
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In 1961, Jack was awarded the first civilian contract from the Interstate Commerce Commission to transport helium in the United States. By the late 1960s, he was operating seven companies that provided services around the globe in the compressed gas industry.

Jack B. Kelley died June 9, 1980. His legacy lives on as his family's contributions to the worlds of business, innovation and philanthropy continue in the Texas Panhandle and around the world.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceScience & Medicine. A significant historical date for this entry is June 9, 1980.
Location. 35° 11.974′ N, 101° 54.808′ W. Marker is in Amarillo, Texas, in Potter County. Marker is on the west side of the Helium Columns at the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1200 Streit Drive, Amarillo TX 79106, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. 1983 Relocation of the Helium Monument (here, next to this marker); Helium Time Columns (here, next to this marker); Smith-Rogers House (approx. 1.2 miles away); William Henry Bush (approx. 2.6 miles away); Amarillo Natatorium ("The Nat") (approx. 2.8 miles away); Route 66 in Amarillo (approx. 2.8 miles away); Quanah Parker Trail
Jack B. Kelley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Kirchner, November 19, 2015
2. Jack B. Kelley Marker
Marker is the center of the three markers.
(approx. 2.8 miles away); Quanah Parker Comanche Chief (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Amarillo.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 19, 2015, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 1,205 times since then and 179 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 19, 2015, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.

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Jun. 9, 2023