Kenneth “Kenny” Jordan, a devoted father and husband, firefighter of more than 40 years, mentor to Mountain Area youth, and a man whose dedication to church and mission work left impressions on thousands across the globe, passed away late last month.
Family and friends describe Jordan, who spent 31 as a Hotshot and who retired in 2014 as Superintendent of the Sierra Hotshots, as the toughest man they ever knew. Jordan’s life motto, they said, was “God, family, country.”
“This guy lived more lives in the 59 years he was on this globe than most people will ever need,” said Jacob Tallmon, a sergeant with the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and a longtime friend of the Jordans. “He was tough ... kids would stand up a little straighter if he called them tough. And many went on to be firefighters and good people because of him.”
Tallmon described how Jordan survived a helicopter crash, scared off a mountain lion who was set to attack him, and a near death experience when caught in a wildfire.
Jodi Marr, one of Jordan’s three daughters, said that experience changed his life.
“The time my father deployed his fire shelter and was ‘burned over’ was a life-altering event,” Marr said. “This is the moment he dedicated his life to God and his family.”
Jordan often taught young men not to whine or complain about adversity, Tallmon said, and how to treat women with respect. But behind that gruff exterior was a “big old teddy bear” who, while raising his daughters on his own, still found time to write letters and postcards daily, even when he was on firefighting duty in remote locations.
He wrote to encourage others facing hard times, Marr said, including those in missions, the hospital, the imprisoned, military service members, and his family.
In addition to the letters, Jordan encouraged others in many ways, Tallmon said. He believed in the importance of giving flowers, and would give ladies roses while boys got the stems. He would also host homemade soup nights at his home.
“He’d have kids come over to sit down for a family meal, often when they’d never had such a thing before,” Tallmon said.
Jordan’s dedication and commitment to helping others was seen in his work both in the Mountain Area and across the globe. For more than 20 years, Jordan worked with the youth group at Sierra Pines Church, and was driven by his passion for Christ to undertake mission work.
Most recently, Tallmon said Jordan went on a mission to the Philippines with Project Life Subic, working in the slums to provide children and families in need with food and music for worship.
“He was very mission minded,” Tallmon said. “So we shouldn’t be mourning his loss for us, we should be mourning for the people who never met him. That’s the legacy he left.”
Tallmon said Jordan’s entire style was unique.
“Other missionary groups (in San Francisco’s tenderloin district, where Jordan served the homeless for several years) would think he’s one of the homeless people and try to give him coffee or something,” Tallmon laughed. “He was rough. Just a rough old trapper ... in his early years, in the off season to make ends meet, he’d trap animals for fur. Between firefighting and hunting, he knew the mountains better than anyone.”
Jordan died unexpectedly Nov. 27 while surrounded by family at his daughter’s house in Coarsegold.
Jordan’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at Mountain C hristian Center, 40299 Highway 49. A reception will follow at Sierra Pines Church, 40855 Covey Court. Cards and/or condolences can be sent to The Jordan Family, C/O Sierra Pines Church, P. O. Box 2383, Oakhurst, 93644.
The family has asked all service professionals to attend Jordan’s memorial in uniform. Additionally, they asked any guest that has ever received one of his letters to bring a copy to the funeral, or if he ever gave them a flower, they bring one for “all his girls.”