By KATIE EUBANKS
Clint Herring’s parents fell in love in Selma, Alabama. Clint’s father was “an awesome attorney” who’d attended law school at The University of Mississippi and served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) corps, Clint says. The Herrings settled in Jackson, Mississippi.
But when Clint was 6, “(my dad) ended up unfortunately leaving the family, mainly due to alcohol.”
Clint’s mother went into a deep depression. “She was a sweet and caring person that had some mental health challenges in a day when physicians did not know how to deal with (them),” Clint says. “In those days, the treatments (exacerbated) the problem.”
By 10 years old, Clint was living with an aunt and uncle, first in California, then Arizona. “They were awesome people,” Clint says.
At 13, he had a business mowing yards.
At 14, he attended his mother’s funeral in Mississippi. She’d died in a car accident. After seeing his family at the service, he was more motivated than ever to change that family’s trajectory.
At 16, Clint moved out on his own in Arizona. His aunt and uncle’s household “wound up being fragmented as well,” he says.
By that time, he’d met Terri at school in the Phoenix area.
Terri had a more stable upbringing, attended church at Christmas and Easter, and eventually accepted Christ at a Wednesday night church service at 14.
“The problem was, I thought you could never sin again,” she says.
Clint had a similar experience — not a lot of church growing up, but prayed to receive Christ at a Campus Crusade event when he was 10 — and at 18, “I told the Lord … if I could be good at one thing, it was to be a good dad and a good husband,” he says.
That might seem young for such a mature declaration, but it was right around the time he and Terri wed and moved to Starkville to attend Mississippi State.
“His father went (to Mississippi State) and played (football) there. I think football was his first love,” Terri says.
“Without really knowing it, I had an internal sense of calling to come back (to Mississippi),” Clint says.
He and Terri have been successful in Mississippi — she with pro-life work, including lobbying for the state law that eventually overturned Roe v. Wade, and he through commercial real estate ventures. (Ever hear of a little development in Ridgeland called The Township at Colony Park?)
So Mississippi wound up being a providential choice for the teen newlyweds. But as they moved across the country three months after the wedding, they had no idea how to be good spouses — or parents. Before the end of the 1,600-mile drive, Terri realized she was pregnant.
‘We were desperate’
Terri worked and attended classes until son Gabriel was born, then “we struggled so I could stay home,” she says. Clint worked, attended classes, and played football. To celebrate Gabriel’s birth, Clint handed out cigars in the MSU locker room.
One of their neighbors knew somebody who was building a house. Clint had done some carpentering in Arizona, so he worked on the build so he could buy Terri a camera she wanted for Christmas.
“Then the architect on that house asked if I wanted to build something (myself),” he says. This was one of many doors that opened for Clint to pursue a career as a developer.
The young couple was juggling a lot, and Terri wishes they’d given themselves more grace.
“I don’t think we were very merciful to ourselves and what we had taken on,” she says.
While she admits, “Waiting a few years (to have kids) probably would’ve been healthy,” she has zero regrets. “I think there’s value in starting (young) as a team. It’s a character-building experience.”
Still, the Herrings fought frequently in their early years. “Had we stayed in the West, our marriage would not have survived,” Terri says. “There were solid foundations in the South with marriage.”
More importantly, Clint and Terri went to church. “Our church family became our family,” she says. “That connection to church and God helped us stay together.”
It also helped them in their individual walks with Christ.
“Until we got to Mississippi and got good teaching, it was a struggle (for me) to ever feel worthy,” she says. “The teaching was really key for us. … We were desperate.”
Building a company, overturning Roe
Eventually the Herrings moved to the Jackson area, and Clint got the opportunity to be project manager and developer of the Roses Bluff neighborhood in Madison.
However, “I wasn’t going to be a homebuilder with a cell phone and a pickup truck, because … it interrupts the evenings a lot,” he says. “I immediately gravitated towards commercial real estate. So we were builder, developer, owner, operators of commercial real estate from the very beginning. … I started (Kerioth Corporation) with $20.”
Terri adds, “We didn’t have investors. … He took the profit from building … and made that the investment.”
Clint sums up the next few decades: “I kept doing income-producing real estate. Precept by precept, here a little, there a little,” citing Isaiah 28:10.
Now, Kerioth is a diverse investment company with real estate interests, medical interests, wellness and hospitality.
Meanwhile, in the mid-’80s, Terri was raising three sons and volunteering at their church’s children’s ministry when God called her to something different.
After being photographed with her third son for a pro-life campaign, Terri got curious, and her doctor showed her “those horrible pictures” of aborted babies, Terri says. “Once you see it, you can never be the same.”
She was in a worship service when the Holy Spirit called her to pro-life work.
“I said, but what about the children’s ministry … ? And God said, this is the children’s ministry. You’ll be a voice for the voiceless where others don’t want to serve.”
That was 1984. Two years later, Terri successfully lobbied the state Legislature for a law requiring parental consent for minors to obtain abortions. Lobbying came naturally to her — and she saw the importance of it.
“I have been in the Capitol rotunda and have seen the spiritual battle there,” she says. “There is a war over our nation in the heavenlies – a war we have to engage in, at least in prayer. … Clint and I are both passionately involved in politics.”
In her 36 years of lobbying, Mississippi has passed more than 25 laws restricting abortion, and abortions decreased from nearly 8,200 in 1991 to less than half that (3,559) in 2020.
Finally, in June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision declaring abortion a constitutional right. Abortion is now illegal* in Mississippi and a dozen other states, while other states stand at varying levels of access.
The case that overturned Roe stemmed from Mississippi’s 2018 Gestational Age Act, which Terri lobbied for, and which banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“(That type of bill is) not something pro-life people get excited about,” she says. “(But) you just continue to try to eat the elephant one bite at a time. It wound up being an opportunity.”
She says her “vision of a lifetime was to be instrumental in overturning Roe.” But she knows God is the One who actually did it. When the ruling came down, “the song that was on my heart was ‘How Great Is Our God.’”
And what about Clint?
“I told Terri, I used to think we came to Mississippi because of what the Lord was doing in me, but I’ve started to realize … (I’ve) gotten more joy out of watching how God has used Terri to do what’s been accomplished in the pro-life movement (and supporting her).
“It makes me feel like less, and makes me feel like Terri’s more, which is a good thing.”
Since abortion is still legal to some degree in most states — and since young women still face unplanned pregnancies — Terri and others are still working hard to help mothers choose life.
“We’re working on abstinence education in the schools. And infant mortality,” she says. “In high school, how much can we teach of the biology of the unborn child? We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done, because the stats have been there for years.”
Terri is also president of Choose Life Mississippi, which sells pro-life car tags to support pregnancy centers such as the Cline Center in Jackson, where women can receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and pregnancy counseling — all without judgment.
“We want to do two things: 1) Prevent unexpected pregnancy (through education), and 2) when there is pregnancy, do a better job taking care of moms and babies,” Terri says.
That means providing not just diapers, but big-picture support and resources.
“One of my first jobs, when I was pregnant at 18 years old, was at the vet school (at MSU),” Terri says. “They didn’t know I was pregnant. I wondered if they could fire me (if they knew).” She eventually read that they couldn’t, but women find themselves in similar or worse situations all the time.
“We want to make sure we make abortion unthinkable,” she says. “(We want to help women) keep their jobs and thrive.”
*Mississippi law provides exceptions for life-endangering pregnancies and those caused by rape that is reported to law enforcement — including incest with a minor, which is statutory rape.
Family heritage and ‘stubborn love’
All three of the Herrings’ sons work for Clint at Kerioth Enterprises. Clint and Terri have 11 grandkids, ranging from ages 2 to 15, and the family is two generations deep at First Presbyterian Day School and Jackson Prep.
“I believe in building family heritage,” Clint says. But he isn’t talking about schools.
In the mid-’80s, Clint was speaking at a church on Old Fannin Road. His dad knew about it, but “we didn’t know my dad was going to be there,” Clint says. During the altar call, “my dad came forward, and I prayed with my dad to receive Christ.”
Before passing away in 2005, Clint’s dad even worked for him at Kerioth for a while, in real estate law and business law. Sometimes family heritage can go from son to father.
The church Clint prayed at with his dad was one of five or six that he and Terri have helped plant, including Word of Life, their current church.
“It was like Bible school for us,” Terri says, after being raised with sparse church attendance. “If you don’t get (good Christian teaching), you don’t survive the kind of obstacles we have.
“God pursued us, and we pursued God in learning. … We would not be where we are without the church of Jesus Christ.”
Because of that, Clint says he wouldn’t be involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) if it didn’t point people to the local church. He’s supported FCA for 40 years and now serves as chair of the board of trustees for the entire international ministry.
“My FCA affinity came from all my years of athletics, where almost every coach I had was a godly influence on my life. That was particularly important for me since my dad (had) left,” Clint says.
“The first coach I met at Mississippi State was (the late) Bill Buckner,” who went on to head up FCA Mississippi and eventually asked Clint to serve on the state board, Clint says. Clint served on the state board for 10 years, including six as chair, and has served on the international board since 2019. He became chair of that board this year.
He’s done all this while overseeing a multimillion-dollar corporation and being a husband, father and grandfather. How?
“The first thing I do in the morning is the thing I love the least. To the point where now, I’m almost better at the things I don’t like than the things I do like,” he says.
“I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘This is what you’re going to do. Do you understand?’”
Over the years, he’s learned that that approach doesn’t work for everyone. When asked what he would say to his younger self, he replied, “Drive yourself, but learn to be more understanding of and not drive other people the (same way).”
He tells a story:
“A long time ago, there was a painting (Terri) wanted for her birthday, a picture of a woman with spring flowers … And she was blonde, and she kind of favored Terri. I got the painting, and the Lord says to me, ‘Look at the girl. … If you don’t be careful, you can crush (Terri) like you (can) crush those flowers.’”
Both Herrings would encourage struggling spouses to persevere.
“A lot of people don’t know our background. The journey has not been easy,” Terri says. At one point early on when their marriage was in trouble, she declared: “I am not going to live the rest of my life this way.” Now, she says, “we’ll be tempted to fight, and we’ll go, no, don’t go there. … With God, there’s hope. Get in church. Get godly counsel.”
Terri sometimes refers to she and Clint’s “stubborn love,” she says. “We’re both very stubborn. That made it hard to be married (to each other), but we weren’t going to leave, either.
“We’re happy we stayed together.”
Consistence and persistence
The word “retirement” isn’t in Clint’s vocabulary — at least not right now.
“I’m 63, and I feel like life’s really just begun. I have more excitement now than ever,” he says. “In the morning it’s like I put my helmet on and snap my chin strap.”
Terri isn’t stopping either: In addition to continuing her pro-life efforts, she’s working on a book (with help from MCL founder Marilyn Tinnin) telling her story and the story of Mississippi’s pro-life movement.
“I am pursuing the book with fear and trembling, because it makes me feel very vulnerable,” Terri says. “I’m really doing it in obedience to God.”
When asked to name one of the biggest lessons God has taught them together, Clint says, “Consistency counts. … an unrelenting day-to-day walk with God. People try to make life about big, monumental milestones. But I think life is the sum of a lot of really well-done small points.”
Terri names a similar attribute: Persistence.
“Part of the strength of our relationship and our work is persistence. The persistent woman going to the judge (in Jesus’ parable). Whatever your work is, do it one more time,” she says.
“We’re thankful to have persevered.”