Obituary of Col. Thomas Cater, USAF (Ret)
COLONEL THOMAS JERE CATER, SR., USAF, Ret.
January 21, 1946 – January 10, 2019
Colonel Thomas Jere “Jere” Cater, Sr., USAF (Ret.) died Thursday, January 10, 2019, at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL. He was 72.
Col. Cater was born in Macon, GA, the only child of Thomas Johnson Cater, Jr., and Hedvig Linnea Elisabeth Swanson Cater, both of Warner Robins. He was Salutatorian of the Class of 1964 at Warner Robins High School. While attending Georgia Institute of Technology on Air Force Scholarship, he worshiped regularly at St. Mark United Methodist Church in downtown Atlanta, where he met his bride-to-be, Nancylee Rast, in the College and Career Sunday School class. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1968, and from the University of Georgia with a Master of Business Administration in 1977.
Following his graduation from Tech and hers from Agnes Scott, Jere and Nancylee were married August 31, 1968, at Shandon United Methodist Church, Columbia, SC. Jere served over three years active duty at Robins Air Force Base as a Maintenance Officer for the 19th Bomb Wing “Black Knights”, servicing B-52’s and KC-135’s. He completed his thirty-year career in the active Air Force Reserve working with RAFB Civil Engineering. His military education included Aircraft Maintenance Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, Air War College, AFIT School of Civil Engineering, and numerous other training programs.
As a registered Professional Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, Cater excelled in establishing connections between disciplines and forming working relationships to facilitate construction of a wide variety of projects all over the southeast. His career included work in RAFB civil service, as an agent with civilian contractors, and as a professional in large firms and in private practice over more than 40 years. He was a Life Member, Reserve Officers Association; Life Member, Air Force Association. He also belonged to Society of American Military Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; Georgia Society of Professional Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers; and American Society of Energy Engineers.
Faith and family formed the energy core of Col. Cater’s life. His strong faith in Christ emerged in his teen years and undergirded his devotion to his family and his church. He and Nancylee celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary August 31, 2018. They enjoyed sharing time with many friends at the reception in their honor that was given by their children. A man of gentleness and honor, Cater lived out his faith by serving his church in multiple roles. He also strongly supported Boy Scouts of America. Himself an Eagle Scout at the age of 14, he proudly supported his two sons on their successful journeys to rank of Eagle Scout. On January 19, 2012, he was awarded Scouting’s Silver Beaver Award for his unflagging participation.
Always optimistic and forward-looking, Col. Cater greatly enjoyed choral singing in multiple settings. He sang many years with the Heart of Georgia Barbershop Chorus, Choral Society of Middle Georgia, Great Falls (MT) Community Chorus, and his beloved First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. While with the Great Falls Community Chorus he had the joy of singing at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Col. Cater was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas J. Cater, Jr., and Hedvig Swanson Cater, and his aunt, Katharine Cooper Cater. He is survived by his wife, Nancylee Rast Cater; sons, Thomas Jere Cater, Jr. (Tamra) of Purvis, MS, and John Owen Cater (Brittany) of Macon, GA; three grandchildren, Asher Owen Cater, Katharine Lanier Cater, and Skylar Jo Cater.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, Warner Robins, GA - Organ Fund, or to Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL.