Gerald E. (Jerry) Patton

1938 -

Jerry Patton, now retired and living in Thousand Oaks, California, was second tenor in the Voice of Prophecy King's Heralds quartet for 15 years (1967-1982,) and the Heralds quartet for 22 years (1982-2004). A fan of the King's Heralds from his earliest years, he joined them at the age of 29, following graduation from Union College.

Born in Cedaredge, Colorado, on July 27, 1938, the only child of Earl E. Patton and Juanita May Turner. He grew up in a family where music was an important part of life. His father, who owned a coal mine, had formed a quartet with his brother and two sisters that assisted in advertising the business. His parents were second generation members of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Years earlier, His grandfather, Lloyd L. Patton, and grandmother, Ada May, were approached by an Adventist evangelist who asked if he could rent their dance hall for a series of meetings; Jerry later shared what their response was and what followed:

My grandfather said "We can’t give up our dance times." After an agreement was reached that meetings could be held on non-dance nights, the evangelist came to my grandmother and said, "Look, you play the piano for the dances, why don’t you play the piano for our meeting?"  She responded "I’ve never played a Christian song in my life, but I will try."

He then went to my grandfather and said,"You do all the calling for the dances and you will have to be there to close up at the end of the meetings, why don’t you sing some and direct the music.?" By the end of the evangelistic series, they were both baptized.

The involvement in music continued in the family, and by the time Jerry was a young child the family quartet was not only advertising the business but also singing in the local church.  When Jerry was three, they started to include him, placing him on an apple box between his father and mother so that he could be seen.

In those early years he listened to records of the King's Heralds and sought to emulate them, viewing them as heroes. Whenever he had an opportunity to hear them perform live, he would be there, making himself known. One of his dreams through those years was to someday become a member of the quartet. Jerry Dill, bass in the quartet, used to jokingly tell him when they would meet that "all he would have to do is hit Bob Edwards over the head and he could take his place."

Jerry attended Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado, where he sang first tenor in a quartet and the choir. The school's choir director, Merritt Schumann, was an inspiration to Patton, who then and in later years,  regarded him as a truly outstanding choir director. During his academy years Patton also became fascinated with Perry Como, a popular singer of that era. By the time he graduated from CA in 1956, he was thinking of attending Westminster Choir College and/or had decided he wanted to become like Como and be a nightclub singer. His mother urged him to attend Union College, however, and he deferred to her, enrolling at UC that fall.

That first year in college was a disaster, and he dropped out of school. He married Carol Runyon on June 30, 1957, and took full-time employment in the college's furniture factory, where he eventually took charge of one its departments. During that time, he had a church choir which, performed while the principal of Maplewood Academy was visiting on campus. He approached Jerry about his interest in possibly teaching music at the academy in Minnesota, an idea that excited Jerry. When he became aware that he didn't have the needed education and couldn't accept the job, he was so disturbed and disappointed he decided to go back to school in 1961 and get a music education degree.

It took Patton six years to complete his degree because he also had to work to support his wife and three young children, Jeri Lynn, (Montgomery)Scott, and Kimberly Jo.  A third daughter, Carla Dawn, would be born after he joined the VOP quartet).

During his time at UC, he studied with William Haynes, Lyle Jewell, and Elmer Testerman, choral directors at the college. He often sang duets with Jewell, a close friend who, after Jerry graduated, recommended him to Wayne Hooper and the VOP quartet, to replace John Thurber as second tenor. Once Patton's name was mentioned, Hooper and the quartet remembered him, having met and sung with him in an earlier contact.

For the next 15 years he sang with the quartet, having what he would later describe as a "fantastic time," singing and interacting with members of the quartet, Wayne Hooper, and H.M.S. Richards.   In 1982, when the VOP discontinued the quartet, he stayed with the group, which renamed itself the Heralds. He found the challenges they encountered as they established themselves as an independent entity to be an experience that tested his faith and, in the end, made him grow stronger spiritually. He continued with the Heralds until June 2004, when he retired.

A devoted father, he recorded songs for each of his daughters which became the background for pictorial DVDs that celebrated their years of growing from infants to adults.

In 2005, a DVD, Jerry’s Farewell, was produced that saluted his 37 years as a member of the quartet and his many years as a legendary singer in gospel music. Participants in the live concert of nearly twenty songs captured on the DVD included several present and past members of the quartet, plus Del Delker. It was a memorable tribute with great meaning to Jerry, who had fulfilled his childhood dream beyond his wildest imaginings.   

Dan Shultz

Sources: Interviews with Jerry Patton, 2005 and 2022, conversations with daughter Kim Bauman, 2022; Promotional flyer for Jerry's Farewell DVD, 2005