From Service to Seminary

Trey Honeycutt | Lariat Photographer

By Sawyer Smith | Lariat Reporter

Jon Ker has a story that demands full attention.

As somebody who claim status as a veteran, lawyer, educator, politician and family man, his life experiences are fascinating and admirable. He is a warm and interesting person who has lived a life filled with great achievements, including his current position in the Baylor community as a seminary student.

His exotic boots, cowboy hat and southern twang give away the fact that Ker is Texan through and through. From Dallas to Waco, this is his native land. Though travels and work have taken him afar temporarily, he has always returned home to the Lone Star State.

Ker served almost four decades in the military, and at nearly 70 years old, the hardened Army colonel’s physical appearance still suggests that he’s a well-trained soldier. He joined voluntarily in 1967 and officially retired in 2006.

“I joined because I simply felt the calling to do my duty,” Ker said. “I knew I was going to war, but if I was going to do so, I wanted to go with the very best soldier group.”

He became a member of the elite special forces Green Beret, where he fought in both the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Iraq. Ker entered and exited the armed service seeing combat. His sacrifices and bravery have earned him several distinguished honors and medals including a Bronze Star.

He was recognized by United States Rep. Bill Flores with a 2015 Congressional Veterans Commendation.

“It is an honor to present this [commendation] to Colonel Ker in recognition of his service to our country and community,” Flores said.

After returning from battle the first time in 1971, Ker began undergraduate studies at Texas Tech University. By 1976, he graduated with his bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees.

“When I was leaving active duty, I was trying to decide what else I wanted to do,” Ker said. “Law school seemed like a good idea, so I stuck with it.”

Ker’s colorful personality and articulate speaking ability are evident when he speaks, and it seems appropriate that he chose law school and legal work as a supplemental profession to his military career.

“Not long after moving to Waco in 1980, I decided I was ready to open my own practice,” said Ker.

Ker has been providing others with legal help for close to 40 years. He is based out of the same Hewitt law office that he started in the early ‘80s.

As an Army Reserve Officer and attorney, Ker took advantage of many opportunities to teach throughout his life. Teaching, practicing law and keeping up with training was his norm until after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I knew right then, on 9/11, that I would be returning to war,” Ker said. “I called Fort Bragg, which is the headquarters for the Green Beret, and told them ‘I know I’m old, but I can do my job. I’d like to go with you.’”

In 2003, Colonel Ker, 56, deployed with a Green Beret Special Operations Task Force.

“My first stop was in Jordan, and then we launched into Baghdad later on. I was mainly in a supportive role this time because of my age and rank but still saw some action when away from the compound.”

Ker safely returned to his family in 2004. He has three children, four grandchildren, one great-grandchild and another on the way this July. His wife, Terri, has been with him for 31 years now.

Ker is no stranger to politics and worked on Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for president. He is now more than just a resident of McLennan County. This spring, Ker was elected to public office as the chairman of the McLennan County Republican Party.

“I was asked to run for the position, so I talked it over and I prayed about it. I figure it must have been God’s will for this door to open up,” Ker said.

He is set to take over in June of this summer and will be sworn in at the downtown Waco courthouse. According to an interview in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Ker committed to running for the office partly because of frustrations with the Republican Party at the national level.

“The party is too divided,” Ker said in the interview. “Working at the grass-roots level, the county can influence leaders farther up the chain and help move the party forward.”

Ker received a majority 12,426 votes to give him the recent victory.

So far, 2016 is turning out to be a big year for Ker. He has been elected to public office, is awaiting another great grandchild, and expects to graduate from Baylor’s seminary school with a Master of Arts degree in Christian Ministry this December.

“I don’t desire to be a pastor, but after learning about some leftover finances I had from the GI Bill, I wanted to use the money only to go to seminary school. So I applied to Baylor and was accepted in 2011.”

Ker looks forward to completing his third degree.

“It’s good to know folks like Jon,” said John Wheatley, personal friend and lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Valley Mills. “He has a real heart for people and takes all his life experiences and uses them in service of others.”

Ker is an inspiration and success story because of the efforts, sacrifices and accomplishments he has made. He is quick to mention that his greatest gain has been in the form of turning his life over to Jesus Christ.

“Nothing became so important until I surrendered it all to the Lord,” Ker said. “I did this not until I returned home from the Middle East, but it was the best decision I ever made.”