MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- A longtime funeral home director, who owned businesses through Butler County, is being remembered for the lives he touched.
The Rev. Donald H. Jordan Sr., who started in the funeral business in 1953, died Monday. He was 83.
Three years ago, a large community celebration was held at Barnitz Park in Middletown to commemorate Jordan’s 60 years in the funeral business.
On Wednesday, Al Milton, Jordan’s nephew who joined the funeral business more than 20 years ago, and Joe Thomas, who worked for Jordan for 50 years, remembered him for his generosity and service to his community as they sat in the office of Hall Jordan & Pretty Memorial Chapel on South Main Street.
They said Jordan frequently helped young black morticians who attended Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science get established in the business and he always provided funeral services for families, regardless of their finances.
Whenever there was a funeral directors convention, Jordan took his 10 employees and their families and covered all the expenses. He also made sure all of his employees had cars and let them stay for free in apartments and homes he owned near his funeral homes.
“You couldn’t have found a better boss anywhere,” said Thomas, 68, a funeral assistant. “If you didn’t have it, and he knew you didn’t have it, he made sure you were taken care of. Wonderful man.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about Jordan, Thomas said “that’s a broad area.”
Then Milton chimed in. “You can’t miss one thing. You’re going to miss his laughter, you’re going to miss whatever demeanor he had for you that day, whether it was arguing, whether it was eating, whether it was laughing, or whether it was business.
“One thing I know about Rev. Jordan: He loved every family that he served or he tried to serve. No matter how much money you had, he would do something for you. You loved him no matter what he was doing that day. He would yell at you for five minutes, and in the same breath, ‘Let’s go get something to eat.’”
Jordan liked to eat, especially at Frisch’s. He never needed a menu. He always ordered a Brawny Lad, chili spaghetti, strawberry pie and a cherry Coke.
Milton said when Jordan was in a nursing home in Mason two years ago, he realized there was a Frisch’s across the street. So one night, he called Milton, who was living in Middletown, and asked him to pick up some dinner.
“Boy I should would love some Frisch’s,” Jordan told Milton.
Twenty minutes later, Jordan called Milton and asked where he was. He remembered that he didn’t tell Milton what to order.
“Rev.” Milton said, “you eat the same thing every time.”
Milton said you couldn’t find two people in Middletown who could say something negative about Jordan.
“He has helped a boat load of people,” said Milton, who attended mortuary school thanks to Jordan. “He did a lot for so many people. Middletown is going to miss him.”
After opening a Middletown funeral home in 1953, Jordan expanded to Hamilton in 1959 and to Cincinnati, purchasing the Lee Funeral Home in 1966, the Houston Funeral Home in 1972, the Pierce and Peoples Funeral Home in 1974, the Wrassman Funeral Home in 1976, and the Denman-Radel Funeral Home in 1988.
Green Funeral Home in Hamilton was purchased in 1990, Thompson Funeral Home in Cincinnati in 1997 and Jones & Simpson Funeral Home in Covington, Ky., in 1999. His most recent acquisitions were the Lavenia’s Home for Funerals and the Summer’s Funeral Home, both located in Indianapolis.
He is survived by his wife, Katherine Chavis Jordan; sons: Phillip, Kevin and Donald Jr.; and numerous grandchildren.
He graduated from Middletown High School in 1950, then Miami University in 1954. He held his first funeral at New Hope Baptist Church, then held funerals for years in his parents home.
Visitation will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday at Hall Jordan & Pretty Memorial Chapel, 918 S. Main St., Middletown. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Allen Temple AME Church, 7080 Reading Road, Cincinnati. Jordan will be buried at Woodside Cemetery in Middletown.
WCPO is a news partner of The Journal-News.