Chugiak-Eagle River community icon Lee Jordan dies at 88
Lee Jordan, a man who devoted much of his life to giving the Chugiak-Eagle River area its own voice and identity, has died, his family said on Wednesday. He was 88.
Jordan created a name for himself by ensuring Chugiak-Eagle River was not simply an Anchorage suburb, but rather a community proud of its history and its place.
Jordan founded the Chugiak-Eagle River Star newspaper in 1971, but one of his earlier journalism signatures can be found in a 1958 edition of the Anchorage Daily Times.
As a typesetter there, he helped craft six-inch letters that read, “WE’RE IN,” for the announcement of Alaska’s admission as the 49th state. It wasn’t just the letters that had Jordan’s touch.
“They came down to the press room and they wanted the biggest type they could possibly get,” Jordan's son, Ole, said. “All they had was a comma, so he had to take that comma over to a saw, manipulate it to make it look like an apostrophe.”
The Jordan family founded the newspaper in 1971 before selling it to Morris Communications in 2000.
Lee Jordan was a fierce advocate for community independence. He was elected mayor for the newly forged Chugiak-Eagle River Borough before a judge ruled they remain part of Anchorage.
“He always said Chugiak and Eagle River needed the world to rotate around,” Ole said. “If Anchorage had something, Chugiak needed it.”
Jordan’s legacy remains indelible, especially in the summer during baseball season. Knik Little League, which he co-founded, and the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks of the Alaska Baseball League play their games at Lee Jordan Field.
For his 80th birthday, Jordan’s family took him to Seattle to watch the Mariners play at Safeco Field. There he watched his named light up the scoreboard to acknowledge his birthday.
“Dad is baseball, through and through,” Ole said. “He loved going down there. He just loved Ichiro.”
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1930, Jordan settled in Alaska with his wife, Barbara. He first arrived in 1949 after enlisting in the Army.
On Wednesday morning, Ole told the community of his father’s passing on Facebook.
“Although his death was sudden, he was surrounded by family and friends as we celebrated the coming of the New Year. We appreciate the thoughts and prayers that have been pouring in as we deal with this loss. He loved the community he lived in so much and it is times like this that truly shows why,” Ole wrote.
His father died of natural causes, he said.
“My big thing right now is he didn’t suffer,” Ole said. “I’m thankful for that. He is and always will be a hero here."
Jordan is survived by Barbara, his wife of 67 years; four children; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“I’ll miss his counsel,” Ole said. “He was always a phone call away. If I ran into a unique situation, something I was sorting through, he would sit there, logically go through it and provide an answer.”
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