As manager of Freeman Field Airport in the mid-1990s, Ted Jordan was handed the task of coming up with a way to honor the Seymour airfield’s history.
He and a group of local aviators and veterans decided to create a museum that would tell the story of the cadets who trained there during World War II.
The Freeman Army Air Field Museum opened in 1996 and continues to educate visitors about Seymour’s importance to the war effort.
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Jordan felt passionately about the project, and it became his lasting legacy to the community, said his younger brother, Mike Jordan of Seymour.
Ted Jordan died Tuesday at Lutheran Community Home in Seymour, having battled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for several years. He was 71.
“He was definitely a people person, and that museum was his passion,” Mike Jordan said. “There’s not a yardstick long enough to measure the number of lives he’s touched of people who have gone through the museum.”
Besides the museum, Ted Jordan also was instrumental in establishing a cadet reunion and was successful in locating many of the men and women who served at the airfield. He and his brother also helped bring the Indiana National Guard to the airport in 1999 for a full-scale military war training exercise. Mike Jordan was in the Guard at that time.
“What was important to Ted was to preserve that heritage and the importance of the airport to the growth of this community,” Mike Jordan said.
Reaction to Jordan’s death was met by sadness from members of the community along with recollections of his kindness.
Bonnye Good, president of the museum board, said the volunteers will miss Jordan’s knowledge and dedication to the museum.
“We are very sad to lose Ted, both as a great friend and as the co-founder of the museum,” she said. “He was passionate about the airfield’s history and about Seymour and helped many of us in a multitude of ways.”
Mike Jordan said he and his brother spent countless hours at the museum, especially in its early days.
“There were so many nights we stayed out there labeling pictures and hanging them on the wall,” Mike Jordan said. “The one regret Ted had was that he couldn’t get out there in the last six months because of his health to see all the hard work and accomplishments that people have made.”
Before being appointed airport manager in 1995 by then-Mayor John Burkhart, Ted Jordan spent 25 years at Jackson County Bank, opening and managing the bank’s first full-service branch at Jackson Park. He later managed the customer and corporate services departments.
Mike Jordan said his brother was forced to retire from the bank after it implemented a policy that married employees couldn’t work together. Ted married Mary Anne Plump Garriot on Sept. 30, 1995.
When Burkhart replaced him with current airport manager Don Furlow, Jordan went on to a job as an advertising salesman for The Tribune before being named community development director by Jim Bullard, who was mayor at that time.
It was Ted Jordan’s job to be a liaison between city hall and local businesses and industries.
Jessica Gillis, a former employee at Chili’s in Seymour, said Ted Jordan was a regular customer, whom she looked forward to seeing on Saturday afternoons.
“He was one of my favorites,” she said. “He would come in after working at the museum. After some potato skins and cold beer, he would always have a story to tell.”
Her favorite story was how Jordan met his wife while cruising downtown.
“Seymour lost a great man today,” Gillis said. “My heart and prayers go out to Mary Anne, Mike and Linda (Jordan), and the rest of the family.”
Mike Jordan said he and his brother often talked about life and what they would leave behind when it was all over.
“I would tell him at the end of the day, when everything is over and you look at the bottom of the ledger, you hope that you made a difference,” Mike Jordan said. “And Ted made a difference.”
Ted Jordan’s funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Voss Chapel, 316 N. Chestnut St. in Seymour. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. until time of service Friday at the funeral home.
Memorial donations may be made to Freeman Army Air Field Museum, 1035 A Ave., Seymour IN 47274.