I’ve known Lee Jordan for many years and was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Over the years he was my editor, mentor, colleague, and friend.
For Eagle River and Chugiak, which he liked to call “the center of the universe,” he was more than a pillar of the community. He was its bedrock. While we didn’t win the battle for our independence from Anchorage that he spearheaded in the 1970s, he played a crucial role in forging our separate identity—an identity that we so proudly embrace today.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, but anyone who resides in Eagle River/Chugiak/Birchwood is quick to point out that they DON’T live in Anchorage. Lee was a key figure in instilling that community pride and sense of place.
A baseball field bears his name, but in my opinion, because of his many contributions to the community over the decades, the Eagle River/Chugiak area could rightfully be named “Jordan.” However, knowing Lee’s genuine modesty, he would never push for anything like that.
Lee was the consummate professional journalist, whose chief credo was accuracy. For several years I contributed to the Eagle River/Chugiak Star, which he founded in 1971 and ran for 30 years. On occasion, Lee gently corrected my facts when it came to historical events, such as the early power projects at Eklutna Lake. He was a stickler for detail, and in his newspaper columns and books, was as demanding of himself as he was with others.
Back when we attended the Eagle River Presbyterian Church, my wife and I always looked forward to hearing the choir, of which Lee was a longstanding member. He was a foundational rock we could count on – always there – just as he was there for our community in so many ways.
I recently exchanged e-mails with Lee, complaining about the aches and pains of aging. He asked me how old I was. “Seventy-three,” I replied.
“You’re a youngster,” Lee laughed. “I just turned 88.”
That short exchange made my day, and the pains suddenly faded into the background. Lee’s sense of humor was unflagging.
From the days when Eagle River was not much more than a gas station and grocery store along the Glenn Highway on the way to Palmer, Lee and his wife Barbara carved out a wonderful life in Alaska. In doing so, they touched the lives of many. To name a few of the homesteaders and pioneers of our area with whom they rubbed elbows over the years: The Pippels, Willises, Obergs, Fetrows, Frys, Abrams, Wallaces, Riddells, Haiks, McDowells, Brooks, Briggs, Braendels, Jankes – and so many more.
Another editor, Elizabeth Pearch, will review this piece. However, in my mind, Lee will be looking at it too, hovering with his red pen. I would be surprised, even disappointed if he didn’t find something to correct.
God bless you, Lee. For all of us at the ECHO, and I think I speak for folks at the Star too, you will forever remain our “editor-in-chief.”
Finally, For Lee’s benefit, I’ll end with the Associated Press (AP) mark denoting a story’s completion: