Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Willie James Jordan Sr.

A solid role model, Willie Jordan Sr. always stressed accountability

ST. PETERSBURG — Four years ago, Willie Jordan Jr. bought his first house. Then he sat in his father's living room to talk about what he had done.

This was a big step, Willie Jordan Sr. told his son. Don't take it lightly.

"Your bills come before any girl," he said. "Your bills come before any fun."

Above all, don't screw up your credit. "He always said if you didn't have credit, you had nothing," recalled Willie Jordan Jr., 35.

It was the kind of advice he could expect from the man some family members called "Big Papa," others "Bear." Solid and to the point.

They also counted on Big Papa as a travel companion on cruises, a cook and a dance partner.

Mr. Jordan, who rarely missed a day in 30 years with the city's Sanitation Department, died Sunday of leukemia. He was 67.

"It was a blessing every morning to have a father to watch get up and to work," Jordan Jr. said. Everyone looked up to Mr. Jordan, and consulted him about everything from boyfriends to family finances.

"He was like the patriarch of the family," said sister-in-law Verdelle Clark, 65.

He taught his sons accountability.

"He would definitely use that leather belt," said William Jordan, Willie's twin brother. "But he'd also come back later and explain why he did what he did. He was very emphatic on us doing the right thing."

Both sons are now Pinellas County sheriff's deputies.

Until recent months, when his health declined, he attended Bethel Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church every Sunday. He also delivered food to a pantry and shuttled children to AWANA, an evangelical youth program.

A Tallahassee native, he met his future wife, Jo-Ann, when she was 19. Her strength and his tolerance made for a perfect match.

"My parents' relationship is, the lioness is the one that goes out to catch the prey," said William Jordan. "But the lion is the one to protect the household."

His brother, Willie, put it another way. "She would let him be the man when he needed to be the man. But we all knew who wore the pants."

Every payday, Mr. Jordan turned his check over to his wife. She managed the books and paid the bills on time.

Mr. Jordan played hard, too. He traveled on numerous cruises with family, where he always looked for shrimp on the menu.

Diagnosed with leukemia in January, Mr. Jordan said he didn't feel sick. He maintained that spirit as his body weakened.

His priorities guide family members now. As Willie Jordan waded through funeral arrangements in recent days, his mother took him aside.

"She was just reminding me, 'Don't forget to pay your mortgage,' " he said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Willie James Jordan Sr.

Born: March 11, 1942.

Died: June 28, 2009.

Survivors: wife Jo-Ann; sons William and Willie; sisters Lena Lewis, Doris Jones, Lorine, Corine and Charlittle Jordan; brother Walter; and numerous extended family members.

Service: Family visitation 4 to 7:15 p.m. today, friends 7:15 to 8:15 p.m., Smith Funeral Home, 1534 18th Ave. S. Service 10 a.m. Friday, Bethel Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, 3455 26th Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

A solid role model, Willie Jordan Sr. always stressed accountability 07/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.