UPDATED: Greenville Mayor Chuck Jordan dies after bout with pancreatic cancer
by Ross Reily
Published: November 14,2012
Greenville mayor Chuck Jordan died Tuesday at his home after battling pancreatic cancer.
Jordan was 66.
Survivors include his wife, Jane; a daughter and four grandchildren.
Graveside services will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 at Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City. There will be no active pallbearers but Jordan requested that all the citizens of Greenville serve as honorary pall bearers as a sign of unity.
A memorial Mass will held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 16, preceded by visitation at St. Joseph Catholic Church beginning at 9:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any memorials should be given to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 412 Main Street Greenville, MS 38701, or to your favorite charity.
It was just weeks ago Jordan told the Mississippi Business Journal he was resigning office after just nine months having learned he had advanced-stage pancreatic cancer.
Yet Jordan was strong until the end, even making an appearance at last Thursday’s Rotary Club meeting at the Greenville Country Club before going home to be with his family. He stayed there until his death last night.
The retired Planter’s Bank president, who spent 30 years in the banking industry, took over as Greenville mayor last December after a surprising landslide victory in which the banker-turned-politician took more than 64 percent of the vote.
Mississippi Economic Council director Blake Wilson says Greenville is a little dimmer today because of Jordan’s passing.
“Chuck was a unique individual. … He was always looking out for Greenville and the Delta,” Wilson said. “It was never about him. It was always about promoting Greenville and the Delta. Even when he didn’t prevail, he never took it personally. He just kept picking at it and working on it. And he would never give up.
“He was just a great individual and we were all better off for having known him,” Wilson said.
Jordan had been a shot in the arm for Greenville, which had fallen on hard economic times in the last 40 years.
He had brought a sense of hope and pride that had not been evident in recent memory.
Jordan ran his campaign on a “Five Point Plan to Fix Greenville.” The planks were crime reduction, job creation, education accountability, infrastructure improvements and clean up.
In late September, one day after he revealed he would resign, Jordan called his longtime friend, John Cox, and asked him to run to replace him.
Cox, an attorney who’s practiced in Greenville for almost 40 years, cleared the decision with family and was, like Jordan, elected in a landslide. He got 57 percent of the vote in a five-person race.
Cox plans to continue implementation of the five-point plan Jordan set in motion late last year.
“When you’ve got something that works, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” Cox recently told the MBJ . “(Jordan’s) vision and his plan were excellent. Chuck took a lot of time developing that, so I’ve adopted it. Let’s just call it a quality-of-life plan. That’s what has to happen in any community to be successful. To the outside world, to tourists, to businesses, if your quality of life isn’t where it needs to be, you have a problem.”
In a statement from the Greenville mayor’s office this morning, Cox said, “Chuck Jordan was a loving husband and father to his family and a close and faithful friend to many people throughout our community and state. His love for Greenville was evidenced by and through his volunteerism in community service and culminated in his very capable leadership as mayor.
“Although Greenville has lost and exemplary citizen and a great leader, his vision for the future of our city will continue to be used as a guide for improvement and prosperity for Greenville.”
It seems Jordan was on his way to accomplishing most of what he started, with many properties in downtown Greenville being renovated as mixed-use facilities. That comes on the heels of the creation of Stein Mart Square, which re-developed a once overlooked corner into a location the mayor says will be the center of community activity as downtown continues to grow.
Other projects included the recent Delta Hot Tamale Festival after Jordan had deftly proclaimed Greenville “The Hot Tamale Capital of the World.”
Also, is the upcoming Mississippi River Marathon in February, which will be used as a fundraiser for Teach For America and as a tourism event for Greenville and the entire Mississippi Delta.
“Chuck Jordan was Greenville’s cheerleader and chief believer,” Delta Democrat Times managing editor Laura Smith said Wednesday morning. “He recognized Greenville’s problems but believed we could and would overcome them through hard work and perserverance.
“He knew no one could improve Greenville but the residents themselves, and Chuck personified that. He was action.,” she continued. “For Greenville to continue to progress, residents should carry on his example — that despite our differences, despite our problems, we can make a difference.”
On the jobs front, Jordan had been working on a five-year tax abatement to local businesses to spur investment, a city-wide internship program with the aim of bringing the city’s college students back home to work and a state-backed Delta Opportunity Zone, similar to the post-Hurricane Katrina Gulf Opportunity Zone, to offer incentives to businesses looking to locate in the Delta.
And he was headlong into a project with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann to return blighted properties to the tax rolls. According to Jordan, nearly 1,000 residences in Greenville are owned by the state due to unpaid taxes. Several hundred of these properties have already been deeded over to the city and back on the tax rolls.
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