Bill Jordan

Bill was born 5-25-35 in Evanston Ill. His Mother was an RN and his Dad a salesman/vice President of Club Aluminum. As a child he moved a lot until his parents settled in Park Ridge IL. Bill went to New Trier high school where he was their top diver. Bill went to the IL. State Diving meet with a fever of 102 — He placed 2nd & but the fever developed into Polio. This was the start of his medical history. He never was able to dive competitively again.

At 13 he made a surf board and tried to surf the waves of Lake Michigan which didn’t work out too well (waves too small). At 17, his parents decided to build a 3,600 square ft house by themselves. It was a two year project and Bill got a real education with the hammer, saw, and building trades.

At 12, Bill and his father built a 20ft sail boat and launched it every summer at the Chicago yacht Club. Bill’s first job was a dingy boy. He took people back and forth to their boats. He met Senator Church and soon was working for the Captain of her yacht, and taking trips with the family. Senator Church recommended Bill to Princeton University where he spent his first semester of college. Luckily for me, he transferred to Purdue University. I met him in March of his senior year. He was going to live in California and work for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. I was 19 he was 21. We were going to California, we were in love. The marriage lasted 54 years.

Our first year was spent on the beach in Santa Monica. Me, mat surfing, Bill mat & board surfing (the waves were bigger than Lake Michigan). In our first apartment, we needed a kitchen table, bookcase, coffee table etc. Douglas Aircraft had a woodcraft shop for employees and, of course, Bill decided to make our furniture from wood scrapes of aircrafts. He had an accident and dropped a vice on his foot. The foot turned purple and the toe nail fell off but he felt no pain – this was the beginning – we had been married 4 months.

A year later, he soaked his foot and didn’t feel the temperature of the water. Now, he went to the doctor. The doctors put him on a balancing board sort of like a titter toddler, tapped his spinal cord and put dye into his spine (No MRI’s yet) and watched the dye run in his spine (very painful). They found indeed his spinal cord curved at T4. What could be the answer? – Maybe MS, maybe a tumor, maybe a cold in the spinal fluid? They ruled out tumor and sent us home. We decided to live our life and start our family and for 15 years– no problems. Then he started to have a slight limp.

At UCLA they tested him again, decided to operate but he almost bleed to death. They found arteries inside the spinal cord. They decided to give him COLBALT; it didn’t work and after a year in braces, he went into a wheelchair, May, 1975 at age 40, I was 38. At T4, your spinal cord controls your bladder and he had to have surgery to attach a bag — forever. He fell out of his chair three times while pushing and broke his legs – no pain, sometimes casts. His next major hospitalization was a blood embolism in his head, same as the back. Now they knew how to fix it. After one critical month in ICU at UCLA, he transferred to Northridge Rehab, just in time for the earthquake. His bed hit three different walls. Then, in 2004, he had a heart attack and that started his stents (5), open heart surgery, and, oh yes, the tip of the surgical instrument putting in the stent broke off. It is still stinted to the artery going to his kidneys. While in that surgery, I was watching on TV the hurricane barring down on our house in Florida. Luckily, it did minor damage to our house. By now they had MRI’s. He was diagnosed with an AV malformation. Very, very rare. It’s a clump formed by arteries and veins growing together. And, oh yes, the cobalt had fried his cord from T4 down – no wonder he couldn’t walk.

Next problem was the blood supply to his legs which lead to the amputation. Next leukemia (CML), remember the cobalt, oh yes, it caused his leukemia but luckily it was controlled by a daily pill costing $165.00 each and sometimes making him ill. In April of 09 he had a gall bladder removed by an epidural surgery. After suffering many years with aortic valve problems, he had experimental heart surgery which we all know worked but the heart muscle stopped. An unbelievable record of illness. The miracle man.

Now what did he do during this time of illness? He worked as a Mechanical Engineer, a packaging specialist and manager, until going into a wheel chair. He retired from engineering and made our own home accessible, designing a wheelchair bathroom, a workshop in the garage, an accessible entrance way and many other features. Then, he started working designing jewelry.

Bill was not able to enter many buildings and he found accessibility poor so he thought he could help. First, he had to study California law for ADA (Americans with Disability Act) was a few years out. California had very good laws so he went up to Sacramento to a conference, traveling by plane all by himself. He was active with a disability organization called CALF and soon was appointed to a committee under Mayor Tom Bradley which he would later chair. It worked with the building department requiring buildings to met code.

After ADA, many buildings were out of compliance and the new buildings couldn’t get permits to open unless they met ADA. Bill found his phone was ringing with work and he met with the big builders and architects of LA reviewing hundreds of projects. Some of his projects were the two Gettys, Rose Bowl, Hollywood Bowl, Universal City, Third Street in Santa Monica, San Diego Football stadium and also did a stadium in Miami. He worked on projects in Cape Coral, Florida. He was appointed to a committee in Washington DC on accessible. Bill joined Rotary about 14 years ago and enjoyed the friendship and the giving back to the community.

Since our family liked to camp, he made our camper accessible. He designed a lift to get into the camper. He went to the factory and he helped build it into the camper. He then designed the inside of the camper to meet his needs. He designed a wheelchair that he could use on the sand. He swam and snorkeled and even tried scuba in the oceans. He designed a dune buggy that he could drive and we went everywhere including the dunes of Pismo Beach. We then decided that we wanted to travel and found ships that were accessible and tours that were accessible to Europe, New Zealand and Brazil. Nothing stopped him.

We bought and redesigned a house in Cape Coral, Florida. He converted a boat and dock so he could drive the boat. He helped raise our two girls, teaching them by example. Life isn’t fair; you get out of it what you put into it. He would tell you that the best thing that happened to him was becoming disabled. He was able to make a difference.

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From Bill’s daughter, Pam:

I want to thank everyone from coming out today to remember my Dad.

I have this picture of my Dad, that I have kept on my dresser that captures my Dad spirit. It’s a picture of my Dad at the helm of my parent’s boat when they lived in Florida the SS “Mr. Miracle”. The Frame is embodied by a saying that I would like to read to you.

Fathers are a child protector and a hero in their eyes.
A father is a teacher by example of what a man can be. 
A father clears the path and lets the child pass by to discover Life.
He knows how the world could be.
He gives us smiles of hope and holds us tenderly.
He is a child’s best coach and Fan.

Yet Dad was so much more than this. He imparted and empowered Zoni and I many pearls of wisdom.

One of the teachings that my Dad has taught my sister and I was the value of a buck. He taught me how to manage money. In essence he taught me how to look at the financial picture and prudently know if I approved or denied – a term coined by financial guru, Suzie Orman. Dad taught Zoni and I other important financial concepts like a penny wise but a pound foolish, and basically speaking there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I remember when I was about 16 he did gave me a Shell gas credit card ( perhaps a little daring) and at the end the month He would create an invoice that has all the gas I charged on the credit card bill and all my long distant phone calls I made to my friends. I remember one particular invoice which totaled 20 dollars and 22 cents. So I gave my Dad a twenty dollar bill. He promptly let me know I shorted him the 22 cents and that there is no “Nickel and diming” Him. So After some haggling, I subsequently coughed up the 22 cents.

He also taught Zoni and I how to do home repairs. At that time this was not one of my favorite chores, but now managing a home myself, I am eternally grateful the things he has taught me. 

I remember when my Dad went into a wheelchair, being the good engineer that he is; he would draw little diagrams and give us instructions on how to repair the swamp coolers. Sure enough we would go up on the roof and repair the swamp coolers. Dad taught us how to clean the pool and run the pool equipment. Dad also taught us how to hook up our stereos and TV sets. I remember in college, my roommates would refer to me as “the cable guy”.

Yes, my Dad being an engineer did embrace some of those engineerisms that I’m sure you’ve heard about.
1st Engineersim I want to share with you is THE FASCINATION WITH GADGETS. One gadget that stands out in my mind is the X-10 light switches he installed throughout the house. Now the beauty of the “X-10” switches is that if in the middle of the night you are startled, there is that one “emergency switch” you can depress and all the lights in the entire house would turn on. Dad conveniently located the emergency switch right next to his bed. Sounds slick right. The problem with these X-10 switches he installed throughout the house is that they are so “hard” or “buggy” to turn on and off. You would push and then you would push to the left and then push to the right and then after breaking my nail, the stupid switch would finally turn on. The switches somehow always worked flawlessly for my Dad. He had a way of giving the switch that intimidating stare and the switches would turn on and off like magic for him. He’d love to tell me the switches worked great and it was just “Pilot error”.

Another Engineersim is: POWERS OF CONCENTRATION
If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything else in the environment. My sister and I encountered this when were playing cards or board games with Dad… Dad would go into such deep concentration that we would have to either put him on a timer or sing the Jeopardy song to him in order to get Dad to make a move. However I will say this “concentration” did pay off, as he did win most of these games.

Mostly What I want to say is how He loved Zoni and I unconditionally. I’ll have to say that Zoni and I had really tested this Love concept in our teen years. For example, when Mom and Dad left Zoni and I to house sit while they went on a vacation. I’m not sure who had a better vacation. As we had our own rendition of “Home Alone” with the big parties we’d throw at the house.

I remember Dad’s favorite sign on the bedroom door which said, “Live long enough to be a problem to your children”. I don’t think he lived that out, He did live long enough to break our hearts as his life ended earlier than normal, at age 76. And yet honestly with all bullets he courageously dodged and my mom’s medical advocating at the hospitals and her tireless nurse-care, we were so lucky to have him as long as we did.

Mostly, I can’ express in words just how lucky fortunate and privileged I am to be the daughter of William David Jordan, Jr.; Zoni and I are forever, Daddy’s Girls!