Eulogy by Dan Jordan

My Eulogy for my brother Marty Jordan, at St. Peter's Catholic Church, Geneva, Illinois, August 7, 2009.

-Danny Jordan

I am Marty’s brother Danny Jordan. Maureen and my family have asked me to say a few words about Marty. After reading the comments so many of you have made in various news blogs and guest books and hearing all of the kind comments last night, I realize that I don’t need to tell you what an unbelievably wonderful person my brother was. You all know that and you have expressed it in words more eloquent than I could hope to. But I thought you would like to hear a brief recap of his life story.

Martin Paul Jordan was born on September 4, 1963, the 12th of the 13 children of Jack and Anna Marie Jordan. (We are known as a family of 10 kids but my parents actually had 3 other babies who died within the first few days of their lives.) We lived at 1823 North Mason Avenue, near Nort’ Avenue and Austin Boulevard on the far northwest side of St. Angela Parish in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago.

Marty’s 9 siblings, all of whom are here today, in birth order, are Mike Jordan, Patsy Jordan Fox, Judy Jordan, John “Jake” Jordan, Dennis Jordan, myself Danny Jordan, David Jordan, Patrick Jordan, (then came Marty), and finally, Mary Jordan Mattas.

The 10 of us were born during the Baby Boom within a window of only 14 years between 1950 and 1964. And because of two babies who died in the middle of the oldest 5 and the youngest 5, we kind of had two separate family groups separated by 3 years in the middle. I am the oldest of the younger group. When I was 5 years old, in addition to my 5 older siblings, I had 4 younger siblings. The four little boys, me David, Patrick and Marty, had an instant 2 on 2 in any sport and we loved playing sports. We played hours and hours of whiffle ball in both our back and front yards and often tag football across about 5 front yards on our block. We built a two-hole golf course in the dirt 10 by 40 foot gangway next to the house. When my dad installed a basketball hoop in our yard, we played that for hours on end into the night. In winter we were forced to play on our indoor court – 2 on 2 nerf basketball using the lampshades on the lamps in either corner of our living room. That one was my mother’s favorite!

Since I was the oldest and Marty the youngest of the 4 of us, he and I were usually teammates. However, Marty proved to be such a great athlete, that those teams soon became unfair and we had to split them up. I don’t think David and Patrick would dispute those memories.

We lived near Amundson Park so we played baseball there. There was another large family from the other side of Amundson, the Mitchells, who also had 4 boys around our ages and the 8 of us would play baseball there virtually from sun up to sun down almost every summer day. We brought our lunches with us. We also played in the Amundson Park Little League and one year all four of us, and maybe all the Mitchells too, were on the same team, the Dodgers. Marty was technically too young to be on the team – but those of you who grew up in Chicago know how “technicalities” are treated: he played – and he had such a strong throwing arm that he was a pitcher, striking out kids 4 years older than him. My mother enjoys telling about hearing the mothers of those kids whine that they shouldn’t have let him in the league at that age. My brother Patrick remembers that even though he was the youngest kid, he was the only pitcher in the league who knew to cover first base if the ball went to the first baseman’s right. That’s probably not so surprising when you consider that he was also the only kid in the league with 6 older brothers who had all played baseball.

Our little sister, Mary, often got the short end of the deal, often completely abandoned by the 4 of us when we played our games, but Mary and Marty also spent a lot of time together as the youngest of the 3 sets of “Irish twins” in our family. When he was little he said her name as Me-Me. To the rest of the family, Marty ‘n’ Mary was virtually one word. Mary remembers a story of being in the hospital with him in separate oxygen tents when they both had pneumonia and he broke through his tent and then her tent to hold her hand. He also held her hand on her wedding day as he gave her away in place of my deceased father.

The three oldest siblings, Mike, Patsy and Judy were already working jobs as teenagers while we little ones were spending our days playing. Our older sisters also took care of us quite a bit when my mother had some extended illnesses. They helped raise us. Jake and Dennis also had jobs as preteens: paper routes delivering Goldblatt’s Department Store ads every week and they put all of us little tykes to work helping them fold the papers and deliver them. We later took over those routes ourselves.

We went to our older siblings’ baseball, football and basketball games when we were little and they came to our games as we got older. My mother loved to come too, in between doing things like 12 loads of laundry a day and cooking up about 5 chickens for dinner.

At St. Angela Grammar School in those years, many of you know that my father, Jack Jordan, was a legendary figure as the volunteer Athletic Director in the late 60’s and 1970s, building from scratch huge programs in football and especially basketball. Marty was a running back on the football team and the point guard on a very good basketball team. Marty was an excellent basketball player. My brother Mike remembers coaching him in 3rd grade when he already had perfected a mean cross-over dribble. My brother Dennis also coached his team one year. Marty was fast and smart, a great passer and a leader. He was everything I had been a couple years earlier as a St. Angela point guard but, unlike me, he could also shoot. His 8th grade team was one of the best ever.

Marty also spent a ton of time in the gym helping my father run the basketball program and the CYO grammar school and high school leagues. Marty learned some good trick shots from my dad but he never perfected Jack Jordan’s two-handed set shot from half court. As was fairly common for kids from St. Angela in that era, Marty made many life-long friends there – I know many of you are here today.

Even though he grew to the Jordan record height of an astounding 5 feet 7 inches tall, he didn’t make the basketball team at St. Pat’s. But during those years Marty coached basketball teams for my dad at St. Angela - 4th graders, then 6th graders and finally 7th graders. Just last Friday night in South Haven he was regaling me about coaching the 7th grade team in a tournament at Gordon Tech High School. His team was placed in a tough bracket but he coached them to big upset wins in the first two rounds. However his star player somehow got hurt after the second round and was unable to play. According to Marty, he made the brilliant coaching decision to bring up a highly talented 6th grader to play the final two games and they won the tournament. He told me he was happy to have retired from coaching as a champion. A young man from that team who I had never met before came up to me last night to tell me Marty was the best coach he ever had.

That job didn’t pay of course but Marty worked summers for the Chicago Park District and was also a golf caddie. Those sound like nice outdoor summer jobs but he also spent a couple summers working with his brother David and his good friend Dennis Powers at the Hormell Hot Dog Factory cleaning and shoveling crud left over from the hot dog making process.

Although he wasn’t an athlete at St. Pat’s, he had such an outgoing personality, great sense of humor and ability to engage with people and have fun that he was a very popular guy. Everyone knew him. He became friends with a group of people from Shabonna Park and then became friend with their non-St. Pat’s friends. But the St. Pat’s and Shabonna friends didn’t replace his St. Angela / Galewood Park friends. Instead, in a pattern that would repeat itself throughout his life, he just ADDED to his list of friends. .

Little tiny Galewood Park was a legendary social gathering place in the neighborhood. All 5 of us youngest siblings followed our older brothers Jake and Dennis there. At times there were 7 Jordans hanging out in various parts of it. Marty, of course, made more friends there. We are going to hear from one of the original St. Angela / Galewood Park friends in a few minutes.

Marty had so much fun and had so many friends at Illinois State University in Normal that he stayed there on a 5 year college plan that he was very proud of. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and later a master’s degree in Human Services from Concordia College in River Forest.

He worked as a social worker for a variety of social service providers over a 25 year career, beginning with Edison Park Group Homes and including Hepzibah Children’s Association in Oak Park, Lutherbrook Children’s Center in Addison, Heartland Alliances’ Neon Street Program in Chicago, Streamwood Behavioral Center and, most recently, Allendale Association in Lake Villa. He worked in a variety of programs providing treatment and services for abused and neglected children and adolescents, usually in a residential setting. Marty told me himself that he did his best work with the most troubled of teenagers in these programs. He was a compassionate friend and mentor to them but he also didn’t take no nothing from nodody. Many tributes to Marty’s dedication to his work with these kids as well as with his colleagues can be found in the on-line comments I referred to earlier.

Marty caught the lucky break of his life in January 1993 when he took the job at Lutherbrook Center in Addison, because another social worker working there at the time was a local Addison girl, a stunningly beautiful young redhead by the name of Maureen Haggerty, who today is the stunningly beautiful young redhead by the name of Maureen Jordan.

When they first met, Maureen thought Marty liked her but she wasn’t sure about him. He invited her to the St. Patrick’s Day party that he and his roommate and close friend Marty Cawkins threw every year. The two Martys started the day very early and Maureen and a couple friends got there much later but Maureen thought Marty was still in good spirits despite the long day of festivities. She particularly noticed how many female friends he seemed to have and wondered whether Marty wasn’t interested in her so much as all girls in general. Marty asked her out again by a card in her office mailbox and she said yes on April 1st. However, Marty, not yet knowing of Maureen’s sweet disposition, mistakenly took it as a cruel April Fool’s joke. They didn’t have their first date until June. They were married five years later on September 5. 1998.

They started a family and moved to St. Charles. Marty and Maureen’s children are my incredibly smart, talented and baseball-smacking nephew John Patrick Jordan II, known like my dad as Jack, who has also recently been flinging baseballs past helpless little league hitters; his incredibly smart, funny and frog-and-caterpiller-catching little brother Liam Martin Jordan; and their incredibly smart, beautiful little sister Caroline Grace Jordan, the next point guard in the family. As you all know, Marty was just a great husband and dad. He coached Jack’s baseball team and gave each of the three kids tons of individual attention. He adored Maureen and showed it by helping her with home and family more than any husband I know.

Marty was very good at giving people individual attention and no matter how busy his life was he was always interested in everyone else’s lives as well. When he married Maureen, Marty acquired another large family to go with his own, the Haggertys, and he made time to spend with each and every one of them, from his father and mother in-law, to all of Maureen’s siblings and their spouses, and all their other relatives down to the youngest nieces and nephews. I know all of the Haggertys loved him as much as we did.

Marty was the same generous way with his own brothers and sisters and their spouses, and especially with all of his nieces and nephews, who he loved spending time with so much and, as always, he treated each one of them as individuals worthy of lots of individual attention and affection.

Marty also has aunts, uncles and cousins on both his father’s side and his mother’s side too numerous to mention but not too numerous for Marty to known and loved each one. There are relatives here today to honor Marty who traveled from California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, along with big contingents from Arkansas and Oklahoma. Marty loved our annual Jordan family trip to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas to visit my mother’s huge family down yonder. A couple dozen of them are here today.

We also started to have a lot of other family vacations together as our kids got older. Marty loved the fact that all of the cousins got along so well. Marty and I became playmates again on these vacations, golfing together, and organizing many games for our kids to play and playing along with them. My kids are soccer players and when we had a game on vacation last summer, Marty said it was the first time in his life that he had ever played soccer. In typical Marty Jordan fashion, after one game he was able to offer the definite opinion that if they had soccer when we were kids we both would have been great at it.

Another thing Marty did as many of you know was run benefits for families who had special needs or troubles. There were so many that I can’t even list them all. But the one I enjoyed most was his annual bowling party at Circle Lanes in Forest Park. Unlike most of the other ones to help out friends, Marty did this one strictly for charity, donating all of the proceeds, most recently to The Light Center Foundation. Well, maybe that party wasn’t strictly for charity. Marty also enjoyed having a party just to have a party.

By the way, those of you who knew Marty well may notice something that sounds familiar. That might be my voice. Marty and I pretty much had twin voices. So if any of you ever just want a small remembrance of Marty, just call me and we can talk about Marty’s beloved Chicago White Sox.

Speaking of remembrances, I would encourage all of you to go on to The Oaks Funeral Home’s on-line guest book and leave your own comments so that Maureen and Marty’s kids and family can have even more lasting memories of how many people he touched in his great life.

As I said earlier, Marty spent a lot of time with our father Jack Jordan as his last unofficial Assistant Athletic Director and coach. Jack Jordan was the original St. Angela Boy, Class of 1938. I consider Marty Jordan, Class of 1977, to have been pretty much the last St. Angela Boy of my generation. If you asked him where he was from, he would say St. Angela - the West Side. I think Marty’s attitudes toward troubled kids and kids in general came from my dad, both genetically and through observation, because our dad, like Marty, loved kids, all kids, not just his own, not just his relatives, and my dad was always there for the kids who were most in trouble and troubled and he gave selflessly of himself for other people. Marty did the same and he would be very, very proud to know that he was considered as great a man as Jack Jordan.

As for my mother, Anna Marie, Ann Jordan, Marty is obviously part of her legacy too. A woman who has and raises 10 children is obviously not afraid to do a little work. If you ever saw Marty in action, you know that he was a non-stop worker too. I’m not really sure what to say to a mother who has lost a son. All I can say is: You really raised a good one. A hero.

Comments