Lee Jordan, icon of Chugiak-Eagle River, dead at 88

Friday, January 4, 2019 - 12:10
  • Lee Jordan shows off his “WE’RE IN” t-shirt after the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks defeated the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 5-4 to clinch a spot in the Alaska Baseball League playoffs on Monday, July 30, 2018 at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak. Jordan was a pressman at the Anchorage Times and helped set the print for the now iconic headline announcing Alaska Statehood in 1958, and went on to found the Chugiak-Eagle River Star with his wife Barbara in 1971. Jordan was instrumental in helping the Chinooks find a home in Chugiak-Eagle River in 2012 when the team moved from Fairbanks. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • 3563 Lee Jordan sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the final game of the season at his namesake field. Photo for the Star by Michael Dinneen
  • Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz, left, shakes hands with Lee Jordan as former state senator Bill Stoltze takes a photo on Thursday, June 8, 2017 before the home opener of the 2017 Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Alaska Baseball League season at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Flanked by his son, Steve, Knik Little League founder Lee Jordan prepares to throw out the first pitch at the Knik Little League opening ceremonies on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at Eagle River Lions Park. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Lee Jordan, an iconic Alaska newsman who founded the Chugiak-Eagle River Star newspaper and briefly served as the only mayor of Chugiak-Eagle River has died. He was 88.

Jordan’s death was announced in a Tuesday Facebook post by his son, Ole.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Lee Jordan,” his son wrote. “Although his death was sudden, he was surrounded by family and friends as we celebrated the coming of the New Year. We tried to reach as many friends as we could but thought it best to announce his passing here in hopes of reaching his many friends that we do not have contact numbers for. We will update this page with obituary information as we get details finalized. 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.”

On Wednesday, Ole Jordan said his dad passed away during a New Year’s Eve party surrounded by loved ones.

“He was laughing right up until the end,” he said.

Jordan was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1930. He came to Alaska in 1949 after enlisting in the Army, eventually settling in 1962 in Birchwood with his wife, Barbara.

As a typesetter for the Anchorage Daily Times in 1958, Jordan helped craft the historic six-inch letters in the “WE’RE IN” headline announcing Alaska statehood by hand-cutting an apostrophe for the oversized font.

The Jordans founded the Star in 1971, publishing the paper until selling to Morris Communications in 2000.

In the mid-70s, Jordan used the paper as as mouthpiece to push for independence for Chugiak-Eagle River from the Greater Anchorage Borough, and in 1974 Jordan was elected mayor of the breakaway Chugiak-Eagle River Borough. A subsequent court challenge forced Chugiak-Eagle River to remain part of Anchorage.

“If there was ever a pillar of this community it was Lee Jordan,” said longtime area resident Finis Shelden, president of the Chugiak Area Business Association.

In addition as serving as the voice of Chugiak-Eagle River for three decades, he co-founded the Knik Little League and later helped bring the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Alaska Baseball League team to Chugiak, where the team plays its games at Lee Jordan Field.

Chinooks booster club president Tim Barto said Jordan and Bill Stoltze were the driving forces behind bringing the Chinooks to town.

“They always gave each other credit, but Lee was the driving force behind that,” Barto said.

Jordan’s death was recognized with a moment of silence at Wednesday’s meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce — one of several community organizations Jordan helped found.

Jordan wrote three books about Alaska and Chugiak-Eagle River history and remained an active writer until his death, contributing columns to the Star and Echo news as well as running a blog about Alaska history.

He is survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Bartlett High auditorium.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.

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