In college at Texas A&M, Jerry lettered in swimming and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. As a history major, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree – Class of 1969. Upon graduation, Jerry was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Patterson served 10 years active duty and 14 years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam and served there until the February 26, 1973 ceasefire. In 1974, Jerry received his wings as a Naval Flight Officer and served in Marine Fighter Squadrons. He flew F-4 Phantoms until his retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1993.
From 1993 until 1999, Patterson served as State Senator for District 11 and represented portions of Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria counties. His most significant legislative successes include (1) passage of the historic concealed handgun law, (2) legislation enabling the Texas coastal management plan, and (3) creation of the Texas State Veterans Home Program.
Additionally, Patterson passed the most significant Texas property rights legislation in the last 50 years – a Constitutional Amendment that allows Texas homeowners to use their home equity as collateral for any purpose they might choose. Further, a tireless advocate for his fellow veterans, Jerry chaired the first Veterans Affairs Committee in the Texas Senate.
In November 2002, Patterson was elected as the 27th Texas Land Commissioner. He was re-elected to second and third terms in 2006 and 2010, respectively.
During his tenure, Commissioner Patterson has led the General Land Office to record earnings for the Permanent School Fund (PSF) and the Permanent University Fund (PUF) – earning billions of dollars for public and higher education. As Chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board (TVLB), he has overseen the largest expansion of Texas Veterans’ benefits in the history of the TVLB.
In addition, as custodian of the Texas coast, the General Land Office has become the primary responder to coastal oil spills and the state agency primarily responsible for post hurricane response and recovery. Moreover, Commissioner Patterson has strived to maintain the balance between coastal property owners’ property rights and the public’s right to access Texas beaches.
As a fiduciary of the PSF and PUF, Patterson has led the fight against radical environmentalists who wish to shut down oil and gas exploration and production on state and private mineral properties. Through court action, he successfully prevented the Sierra Club from stopping production of natural gas on Padre Island. He also successfully challenged the designation of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as an Endangered Species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – a designation that would have severely negatively affected oil and gas production in the prolific Permian Basin.
Jerry has four children. Samantha and Cole, twins, attend public school in Austin. Emily, a South Texas College of Law graduate, is an international human rights attorney. Travis, a Texas A&M graduate, has completed 4 tours of duty as a Marine Attack Helicopter Pilot. Travis is the 5th consecutive generation of Patterson’s family to serve our nation in time of war.
Jerry resides in Austin. He is a member of Bethany Lutheran Church.