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Anchorage

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

  • Author: Matt Tunseth
  • Updated: January 2
  • Published January 2

Lee Jordan shows off his "WE'RE IN" T-shirt on Monday, July 30, 2018 at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak. (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.

“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.

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

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 6-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 and published the paper until he sold it to Morris Communications in 2000.

In the mid-1970s, Jordan used the paper as a mouthpiece to push for Chugiak-Eagle River’s independence from the Greater Anchorage Borough, and in 1974 he was elected mayor of the breakaway Chugiak-Eagle River Borough. A subsequent court challenge forced Chugiak-Eagle River to remain part of Anchorage.

In addition to 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 worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring 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.

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