Charles Jordan, Portland's first first African-American City Commissioner and longtime director of the Parks & Recreation Bureau, has died at 77.
“Charles Jordan is established in history as one of the heroes of Portland,” Commissioner Amanda Fritz said today in a statement.
Jordan served on Portland City Council for 10 years, beginning in 1974. Appointed by then-Mayor Neil Goldschmidt to fill a vacancy, Jordan was assigned to reforming the Police Bureau after a series of racially divisive shootings.
He left for City Hall in 1984 for Austin, Texas, to run that city's parks department. He returned here in 1999 to lead Portland Parks & Recreation, where he oversaw the creation of 44 parks. He was a force in establishing the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Delta Park and Pioneer Courthouse Square—which celebrates its 30th anniversary this week.
Jordan also had a lighter side: When he first arrived in City Hall, he pushed for a citywide ban on jackets and ties during the summer months.
"We need to hang loose," Jordan said. "We all get so uptight about mass transit, freeways, solid waste."