Jerry grew up in Grand Meadow, MN. After High School there, he began attending Austin Junior College (now Riverland Community College), he was active on stage and off in the colleges productions and acted in several productions of the brand-newly formed Summerset Theatre. This was in 1969 and Summerset Theatre was just 2 years old at the time. That was 50 years ago.
He went on to study theatre at Southwest State and did several shows there. He graduated from Southwest with his degrees in English and Theatre. He taught at Walnut Grove, then St. James. While at St. James, he spent summers directing for Fairmont Summer Theatre.
While teaching at St. James, Jerry attended Mankato State (now MN State at Mankato) and earned his MFA in Theatre. He was in a number of shows while in Mankato (Children of a Lesser God, Charlie Brown, to name a few). While there as a grad student, he directed Beyond Therapy. That show went to the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) in St. Cloud.
Jerry returned to Riverland Community College in Austin in 1989, this time as faculty. Jerry took over the reign from the founder of the program, Frank W. Bridges. Jerry was instrumental in getting the theatre named after Frank. During his tenure at Riverland, Jerry ran the Theatre department and produced 4 shows during the school year, two musicals and two plays. At that same time, Jerry became the Executive Director of Summerset Theatre and helped to see it through some very tough times.
He was totally dedicated to the preservation of Summerset and its legacy. During his time in Austin, he also worked closely with Albert Lea Community Theatre (ACT), Matchbox Childrens Theatre of Austin, Feast and Footlights Theatre of Rochester (Steve and Penny Kinney).
He and Scott Blankenbaker, Riverland Music faculty, started the AFA degree program so theatre students could earn an Associate of Fine Arts degree close to home, then transfer more easily to a four-year college.
Jerry has been a judge for the MN State HS Leagues Speech contests and One Act contests for 40+ years. He served on the original panel of those who selected the students to go to the Perpich HS for the Arts.
Since his retirement from Riverland in 2011, he has served on the Board for the school. He now mentors Speech and Theatre student teachers at the U of M. He does SPOTLIGHT, a high school program for Hennepin Theatre Trust were he goes and watches HS performances and provides feedback to directors and performers. Each session ends with them all gathering once a year at the Orpheum for workshops and awards.
There is a scholarship at Riverland named in his honor, supporting Music and Theatre students. Jerry continues to generously financially support the theatres that he has been associated with. To this day, he travels hundreds of miles to see friends and former students in plays.
Throughout the years, Jerry inspired thousands of young people to become involved in the theatre and his influence can be seen and felt throughout the Southern Minnesota Theatre Community.