by Len Lear
Jane Jordan, a life-long resident of Northwest Philadelphia and the adjacent suburbs, loved reading newspapers every day, the kind you hold in your hand. “She subscribed to the Chestnut Hill Local, the Mt. Airy Times-Express (now defunct), the Inquirer and the Tribune, and she read them all,” said her daughter, Natalie. “We would nag her and say, 'Why do you have to get all those papers?' but she was not a computer person. She did email, and that was it. She said she had to hold the actual newspapers and books in her hands. She was always reading.”
Mrs. Jordan, 78, a history teacher at Germantown High School for about 35 years and Stetson Jr. High School in Kensington before that, died of the coronavirus on June 12 at Abington Hospital after contracting it about two-and-a-half weeks earlier. Prior to that, she had dealt with seizure disorders and arthritis, according to her daughter, but “if she set her mind to accomplish something, she would do it.” But the coronavirus was one foe she could not overcome.
Mrs. Jordan, whose favorite subjects were the history of African Americans, women and Philadelphia, was obviously one of those beloved teachers who make a lasting impact on their students. “At least once a month,” said Natalie, “we would be walking down the street, and someone would stop us and say, 'Mrs. Jordan, you taught me at Germantown High; don't you remember?'
“This happened mostly in Germantown but almost anywhere else also. She was over the moon every time that happened. She'd say, 'That was one of my students.' It humbled her.”
Mrs. Jordan was born and raised in Germantown and graduated from Germantown High School herself. She had an older brother, Kermit, who is now deceased. She graduated from Cheyney State Teachers College (now Cheyney University) in 1964 with a degree in history. She had an interest in archeology, but back then such careers for women were extremely limited.
“My mom would be grading test papers in the den,” said Natalie, “and I would tell her I was bored, so she would give me test papers to grade. I loved doing that. I was about 10 at the time.”
Mrs. Jordan met her husband-to-be, Abraham, on a double date, and they were married in July, 1966. They bought a house on Wellesley Road in West Mt. Airy, where they raised their three children — Natalie, now 50; Regina, 51, and Blair, 45. They all still live in the Philadelphia area, as well as five grandchildren. The family moved to Wyndmoor in 2000, where Abraham still lives with Regina. Abraham is a retired marine machinist who worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard for many years.
Mrs. Jordan, who retired from teaching in the late 1990s, and her husband loved to travel across the country by train and to South Africa and Mexico, among other destinations. They were planning to go to Cuba at some point when Mrs. Jordan was overtaken by the virus. “Her favorite place was South Africa after they achieved independence,” said Natalie. “She loved Victoria Falls and the Nelson Mandela Museum in particular. And one of the last things she did was see 'Hamilton' at the Merriam Theater. She loved it!”
Natalie works in the mental health field as a therapist who has observed the deleterious effects of the pandemic on the patients she has worked with. “The instability of the current administration in Washington is causing so many serious problems with housing, medical care and immigration status,” she said. “People can't take anything for granted anymore or feel secure. And the news is so depressing. That is my main mental health concern.”
Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org