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Right place, right time

  Alumni Profile  

Active throughout retirement,
92-year-old Merrill Pulliam ’34 has logged 1,685 volunteer hours at a local hospital.

After leaving Cornell, headed for an interview, Merrill Pulliam ’34 hit on a bit of luck. While standing at a filling station, he overheard a man asking the attendant where he could find a bookkeeper for a few weeks. Pulliam, who had studied accounting and bookkeeping at Cornell, jumped at the chance.

What was supposed to be a job of only a few weeks turned into several years. Thus he began his way up the business ladder the hard way, doing it step by step during the Great Depression. His first
job helped him land his second job, with meat packer E.W. Kneip Inc., where he started as a buyer for a chain of retail markets.

From there he moved into wholesale, where he worked himself up to vice president and eventually president and chairman of the board after the company was bought and sold a few times.

After retirement, Pulliam barely slowed down, working with the American Meat Institute, a lobbying group, for seven years as assistant to its president.

“I traveled all over and it was part-time,” says Pulliam. “It was a good way to retire.”

These days, Pulliam, 92, volunteers at a hospital once a week and plays “quite a bit of gin” in order to keep busy.

He stayed closely connected to Cornell as a trustee from 1975 to 1984 and is now a life trustee. “One highlight of my life was being the chairman of the finance committee and a member of the executive committee at Cornell,” he says.

Pulliam lives in LaGrange, Ill. He and his late wife, Claire Ann, have two grown sons.

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