Sentinel’s ‘mother hen’ dies at 64
Kathy Jordan, for decades The Daily Sentinel’s newsroom secretary/empress and most recently its columnist for local history, and a preserver of it as well, died Tuesday. She was 64.
Jordan died at Swedish Hospital in Denver after suffering a brain aneurysm April 14.
A Grand Junction native, Jordan and her husband, Teddy, lived in and maintained the historic yellow house at 440 N. Seventh St., part of the North Seventh Street Historic District.
Jordan began working for the Sentinel after graduating from Grand Junction High School in 1965 and married Teddy Jordan, a 1963 Grand Junction High School graduate who worked at the Sentinel, on Oct. 16, 1965.
The Jordans combined had more than 70 years of service to The Sentinel.
“Ever since she graduated from Grand Junction High School, few people have been as organically connected to The Daily Sentinel and the broader community life of the Grand Valley than Kathy Jordan,” former Sentinel Publisher George Orbanek said. “I can attest to countless acts of kindness on her part, particularly toward the many members of The Sentinel family she befriended over the decades. Her passing comes as a shock to all of us. My deepest condolences go out to the two Teddies she loved so dearly in life, husband Teddy Sr. and son Teddy Jr.”
As the newsroom secretary, “KJ” was the first person to greet those who visited with reporters, and she frequently directed telephone calls from people who needed to speak with editors or reporters, but didn’t know exactly whom they needed to reach.
Jordan “was the glue that held the newsroom together,” said former Managing Editor Denny Herzog, who worked with Jordan for 25 years.
Circumstances such as unforeseen death or tragedy revealed Jordan at her best, Herzog said.
“She was kind of like the mother hen who would take care of everybody and take care of the details,” Herzog said. “She made sure people were where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to do. I think we all feel a little inadequate that she’s not there to take care of the details for us.”
Jordan’s interests extended beyond the newsroom, though, and in retirement, she channeled more enthusiasm into a role she had long cultivated.
“She was our collective memory,” Vicki Felmlee said. “Kathy Jordan wasn’t one of those people who gave away land, who built buildings or had stadiums and football fields named after them. She was the one who made sure we remember the people who gave away land, who build buildings and who had stadiums and football fields named after them.”
Jordan also was devoted to the development of the North Seventh Street Historic District and her 2005 book, “Heart of the City: North Seventh Street Historic Residential District,” which celebrated the residential section, or heart of the square-mile layout of the city of Grand Junction. The area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jordan’s knowledge and enthusiasm knew few bounds, Marilyn Richardson said.
Jordan recognized the flower pots that Richardson’s mother was using as old downtown street-light fixtures.
“How she talked my mother into giving them up is a mystery,” Richardson said. “It took about six months. It was a long talking-through process.”
Ultimately, the street-light fixtures were restored and placed back on Seventh Street for the nation’s bicentennial year of 1976.
Jordan best had “the beat of our community and knows how to educate others on just what an interesting past our community has evolved from,” Richardson said. “I don’t know anyone who knew as much as KJ did” about Grand Junction and western Colorado.
As a youngster in tiny Grand Junction, she knew Teddy Jordan and Kathy Smith before they married.
“She was a beauty, and they were a hot couple,” Richardson remembered.
Teddy Jordan met Kathy Smith on North Avenue, as they were driving separate vehicles.
“Her tail light was out,” he recalled with a smile.
“She was a tough lady,” Teddy Jordan said. “If she thought something was right, she went for it.”
One of those projects was the establishment of the historic district, said Dave McLean, who met her in 1980 when he went to work for The Sentinel as managing editor.
Jordan called her neighbors together to tell them she wanted to establish the historic district and was greeted mostly with laughs, McLean said, “but if anybody checks the record, she did it.”
Jordan also started a tour of historic homes, McLean said.
“She was very passionate about the things she believed in and the things she wanted to accomplish. We’re going to miss her terribly. She was quite a gal,” McLean said.
One of Jordan’s last projects was getting the City Council to adopt preservation ordinances for the historic district, Felmlee said.
“To get it done before she died was nice,” Felmlee said.
Funeral arrangements remain to be announced.