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Stories of Kansas and the Great Plains
Jerri Garretson - Author, Illustrator & Photographer
Photo of Jerri
Jerri Garretson
May 2006
Photo by
Peter W. Garretson

Jerri writing on the
                Konza Prairie

Jerri writing on the Konza Prairie near Manhattan KS.
November 2001.
Photo by
Shelly Larkins.

Jerri in Norwegian costume

Jerri in the Norwegian costume she made.  The style is from the Hardanger Fjord area where Izzie's parents came from in Norway. 
It is embroidered with Hardanger embroidery and cross stitch. 
Jerri won a second-place award for it in a needlework contest.  The judge was from the Smithsonian Museum.
Virginia 1977.
Photo by Peter W. Garretson

Jerri's Childhood drawing of a horse

Jerri drew the horse above when she was eleven years old, on Christmas Day 1958. Luckily, her handwriting improved as she got older.

Jerri reading
Jerri always loved to read.
(high school sophomore)
Photo by
Howard B. Anderson.

Jerri as pixie
And she loved to perform, too.
Here she is as the "Pixie" 
in a community 
children's theater play 
called "The Bubble" 
when she was in second grade.
Photo by
Marion S. Kundiger.

Jerri and
                Peter Garretson

Jerri & Peter Garretson

Jerri Garretson was born in California. When she was less than two years old, her family moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where she attended Eugene Field Elementary school and graduated from Manhattan High School. Jerri has one brother and two sisters, all younger than she is. 

Jerri was a tomboy who liked to play imagination games, pretending grandiose scenarios with her friends. They were pirates, Indians, horses, magical beings, explorers, anything that struck their fancy. She liked to roller skate, ride her bicycle, swim, and play kickball and tetherball. She avidly collected rocks and fossils and still has some of her childhood collection.

She was crazy about horses and always wanted one. She and her friends had a "club" they called "The Order of White Horses" with silly rules like, "you have to wear white every day" (which was easy because they had white underwear and socks) and "you have to draw a horse every day."You can see one of her childhood drawings in the green column on the left. She loved to ride horses but didn't get to do it very often and she never did get a horse. 

Some of Jerri's other favorite activities were music (she played the violin and piano), dance (she took ballet, modern dance and flamenco dancing and taught dance when she was in high school), drama, arts and crafts, and Girl Scouts. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout for seven years. In high school she taught herself enough guitar chords so that she could accompany herself singing folk songs and then and later sang for parties.

Jerri also loved to read. By the time she was in fourth grade, she was reading both children's books and adult books. She got in trouble with her fourth grade teacher for reading when she should have been working on assignments. Some of her favorite books were Winged Moccasins, the Black Stallion books, Robin Hood, Black Beauty, and fairy tales. 

Because she loved stories, she liked to write her own and began making stories with her spelling words in the second grade. She still has a story that she wrote in sixth grade about Martians invading the New York subway system, and she thought it was fun to put that into her book Imagicat as one of Jeff's stories.

Jerri earned her bachelor's degree in English and psychology from the University of Kansas. Life is full of surprises. Jerri planned to be at least 26 years old and have a PhD degree before getting married, but she met Peter Walter Garretson in the Manhattan swimming pool the summer after she graduated from high school. They got engaged four months later when she was only 17, and married two weeks after her 18th birthday. He took out their marriage license on her 18th birthday, the first day her mother didn't have to sign a form giving her permission to get married that young. 

A friend of hers said, "Marriage at 18 is the acid test of maturity," and predicted the marriage wouldn't last a year. Jerri laughs and says, "I must have passed the test because Peter and I are still married and still in love." Peter is four years older than Jerri and graduated from Kansas State University the same day they got married.

The first three years they were married, Peter was in Law School at the University of Kansas while Jerri completed her undergraduate degree in English and psychology and went to graduate school in clinical psychology for a year. Then Peter entered the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant. Although he hadn't planned to make a career in the army at first, they both enjoyed military life and travel. Peter's 24-year career as an army lawyer took them all over the world. They lived in Germany, Japan, and Puerto Rico overseas, and in Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois in the USA. One of their favorite activities is traveling, and during all of their years in these places, they got to see many interesting and unusual places. 

Jerri started writing professionally as a Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Army Engineer District in Japan, where she created and edited their first corps newspaper, the Bamboo Bridge. It was in Japan that she also began publishing her photos in the Bamboo Bridge and other publications. Her first published works for children were articles about other cultures in children's magazines such as Highlights for Children and Child Life. Most of her articles in children's magazines have been illustrated with her photos. One of them is online here.

Jerri and Peter have two sons, Peter Anthony, who is a US Air Force officer, and Leif (also known as Alex), who served in U.S. Army infantry. Leif died in April 2008.  Peter Anthony has two daughters and a son. 

As a military wife, Jerri learned to be versatile and flexible. She worked as an office manager, a writer-editor, public affairs officer, personnel manager, and preschool teacher. She earned her master's degree in educational technology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

When Peter retired from the army they returned to Manhattan, Kansas, where they lived in an old stone house built in about 1886. You can see part of the front porch or that house in Diane Dollar's "snow cat" illustration on page 134 of Imagicat. It was fun imagining that Jeff and Mortimer lived in her house.That old stone stone house has since been demolished to make way for a townhouse development. Jerri and Peter now live in Sun City Center, Florida.

For six years she was head children's librarian at Manhattan Public Library. She resigned to spend more time with her family and writing and to continue to develop Ravenstone Press, which she founded in 1997. To help her with book design, she went back to school at Manhattan Area Technical College and earned a degree in Graphic Arts. Jerri also worked part time as a general reference librarian at Kansas State University's Hale Library for two-and-a-half years.

Jerri still loves to travel, write, read, draw and take photos. You'll find many samples of her writing, art and photography and graphic design on the Ravenstone Press website. She also designs for several CafePress shops. See our home page for links to some of them. In the fall of 2006, she realized a dream she'd had for years and spent three weeks in China with Peter.

Jerri's most popular book is The Secret of Whispering Springs, a ghost story/mystery read by all ages. 

Trespassing Time: Ghost Stories from the Prairie, published in July 2005, includes four of her stories. They are her first published fiction for adults.  See the YouTube video with Jerri reading the Afterword from Trespassing Time.

Jerri is available for school and library visits, and presentations for organizations.  

Contact her through Ravenstone Press
See information about author visits.

You may send email to Jerri through Ravenstone Press at:  raven@ravenstonepress.com

Coffee Shop Writers -- Jerri still belongs to a group of Manhattan, Kansas authors who write in a wide variety of genres, from fantasy to romance and mainstream fiction. Jerri is the only one who writes for children and young adults. Visit the Coffee Shop Writers' website to see what our lively group is publishing.

Fallen Angel Reviews logo
Jerri's interview at Fallen Angel Reviews (June 2006)

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Last updated April 30, 2015