The Honorable Robert Byrd (Bob) Jordan III
“A powerful, gentle public servant”
October 11, 1932 - February 16, 2020
Died peacefully at home, overlooking Lake Tillery in Mount Gilead, NC,
surrounded by his loving family.
Bob Jordan, was married to Sarah Jane Cole of Raeford, North Carolina for 61 years.
He was preceded in life by his parents R. B. Jordan Jr. and Irene Pritchett Jordan.
He is followed in life by: daughter Betsy Lynn Jordan, of Wilmington/Raleigh/Washington, D.C.; granddaughter, Jordan Ashley Fife; son, Robert Byrd Jordan IV, of Mt. Gilead, m. Wendy Alyson Jordan, his grandchildren, Amber Solomon, m. Chris Solomon and their three children, Sabrina Shaw m. Gilbert Shaw, and their three children, Wesley Cole Jordan, m. Laikin Jordan, and their three children, Vincent Michael Jordan, m. Britney Martin Jordan, and their three children, Robert Landon Jordan, m. Edna Chang Jordan, India Sehoy Jordan; daughter, Janie Cole Jordan m. Carter Randolph Jordan, grandson Christopher Donovan Andrews m. Mary Hannah Andrews, and granddaughters Sarah “Cole” Jordan, Caroline Farrar Jordan brother Jack Pritchett Jordan, m. Sue Ingram Jordan, of Mt. Gilead, their two sons and families; sister, Irene Eugenia Jordan Ussery, m. John William Ussery, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., their four children and families.
Bob Jordan served as Lt. Gov. of North Carolina from 1984 to 1988, and as state senator from 1976 to 1984. His history of public service included leading efforts to improve economic and educational opportunities for citizens. He established the Commission on Jobs and Economic Growth which made far-reaching recommendations for the state. He was instrumental in the establishment of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center which provides leadership in renewing and expanding rural North Carolina as well as providing job development and leadership training for citizens of rural communities. As a result, he advised Presidents and Governors on rural economic development. The center has established programs for providing loans to entrepreneurs and minorities in rural areas.
He participated in the creation of the UNC Board of Governors, and served on both the UNCC and NCSU’s Board of Trustees. He provided leadership for the establishment of the Basic Education Program, a comprehensive plan to provide equal access to quality education, across the board, for all of North Carolina's children. He helped champion the nationally recognized Teaching Fellows program, an aggressive teacher recruitment program which provides scholarships for the best and the brightest high school students who are interested in becoming teachers. Jordan designed and successfully pushed the passage of a $3.2 billion school facilities act to expand school construction across the state.
As Lt. Governor, he established the first Senate Committee on Children and Youth. He pushed for stronger daycare laws and the creation of the North Carolina Center for missing children. He worked for passage of the Housing Trust Fund…A first-time fund to help provide adequate housing for thousands of families and work for fair workers compensation laws. He promoted and led the passage of the Recreational National Heritage Trust Fund which provides millions of dollars annually to purchase land for preservation. Jordan was the leader in the effort to establish the Technological Development Authority and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
Jordan was an honors graduate of North Carolina State University in the School of Forestry. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant. in the U.S. Army after graduation in 1954, and served in Europe in 1955 to 1956 leaving the service as Captain.
Post graduate recognition included: Honorary Doctor of Sciences from N.C. State University, Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Methodist College, and Honorary Doctor of Laws from UNCC.
During his tenure as lieutenant governor as evidence of continued division of opinion, and his commitment to equity, he cast two deciding votes: one against the lottery, believing it to be a regressive tax on the poorest among us, (overturned 20 years later, in again, a deciding vote by Lt. Governor) and one in favor of state funded abortion, stating that as the law of the land at the time, the option should be made available to all.
He served as CEO and President of Jordan Lumber & Supply, Inc. and its affiliates from the time he returned from the armed services, until being succeeded by his son, Robert, this year. His interest in caring for our natural resources and growing a better pine tree, is evident. Jordan Lumber has been awarded nationally for innovation, marshaling of resources and protecting natural resources, earning it the distinction of the largest independently owned lumber wholesaler manufacturer, in the world.
He has been celebrated with the distinction of belonging to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine which is the highest award in N.C. for public service. He is a member of First United Methodist Church in Mount Gilead, and supported his wife, Sarah, in her advocacy for the Methodist Home for Children.
He became a member of Blackmer Lodge #127 in 1954, and was a member of the Oasis Shrine.
Bob Jordan was accessible, with a ready smile, a love for the water whether sailing or boating, on the lake, or the sea. And in the words of a close friend, “Everything Bob does, he does for his family. “ His family extended from the mountains, to the coast of North Carolina, his idea of public service, the best of all leadership, with emphasis on service.
The family received visitors on Tuesday evening, February 19, from 6 - 9 p.m., at First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall in Mt. Gilead. On Wednesday, February 19, at 11 a.m., the Celebration of Life service will be held at the West Montgomery High School Auditorium, 147 Warrior Drive, Mt. Gilead. The public is invited for a reception immediately following the service at First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.
All family members are invited for a private, family-only graveside service, at Sharon Cemetery, Hwy. 731, Mt. Gilead, before the reception. Thank you.
In lieu of flowers, please submit memorials to any one of the following:
NC Biotechnology Center, 15 TW Alexander Dr., Durham, NC 27709
NC Rural Economic Development Center, 4021 Cary Dr., Raleigh, NC 27610
UNCG Teaching Fellows, Office of Student Services and Advisors School of Education Building, Room 142, 1300 Spring Garden St., Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Methodist Home for Children, 1041 Washington St, Raleigh, NC 27605