Jerry was born and raised in Buckley, Illinois. He graduated from Illinois State University in 1970 with a degree in mathematics and physics and taught for four years in the Melvin-Sibley school district before entering law school. In 1977, he received his law degree from the University of Illinois and began his legal career with Martensen & Andrew. He is a member of the Illinois Bar Association, the Ford County Bar Association, and an associate member of the Illinois Association of Drainage Districts and is a frequent presenter at its annual meeting. He enjoys cross country motorcycle touring and spending time with his wife, two daughters, and six grandchildren.