Edgar "Bill" Williamson Jordan

- June 29, 2024

Edgar W. “Bill” Jordan, formerly of Richmond and Brightwood, Virginia, passed away surrounded by family on June 29, 2024. A man of many titles from “Coach Jordan” to “Daddy” to “Poppop”, Bill lived an adventurous and inspiring 95-years of life in service to others. He will be remembered as much for his legacy as a cross-country and track athlete, coach, and educator as for his role as a loving husband, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. 

Born in Richmond, Virginia on August 21, 1928 to Lloyd and Beatrice Jordan, Bill was one of four children. When not in school, he loved to spend his days outside and spent summers and school holidays on his family’s farms. After graduating from Richmond’s Thomas Jefferson High School in 1945, Bill enlisted in the Merchant Marine in the summer of 1946, several weeks shy of turning 18 (but nobody checked). Having allegedly called his mom from the ship dock to tell her he’d be home by the end of summer, Bill boarded the John McCauley Liberty Freight set to transport 800 horses to Danzig, Poland. He spent the 16-day voyage across the Atlantic caring for 25 of those horses in hot and poorly ventilated quarters. The ship lost 113 horses over the journey, but Bill came out even having only lost one horse and supported the birth of another. He returned to Newport News 46 days later. 

While interested in the Merchant Marine, Bill declined future sailings to enlist in the Army in September of 1946 where he served as a paratrooper from 1946 to 1948 primarily in Japan. In 1950, he re-enlisted to serve another year in Japan with the Army Engineers in the Korean War. Bill fondly recalled his 36-hour flight home from Japan to the U.S. as the best flight he’s ever taken having avoided the alternative means of traveling home: a 30-day cruise across the Pacific on a troop ship. 

Bill began what would be a long and successful career as a devoted University of Richmond (UR) “Spider” in 1948 when he enrolled as a pre-engineering student after missing the first two weeks of class during his military service. After his service in the Korean War, he re-enrolled in 1951 and ultimately received an Education degree in 1953. While in college, Bill ran cross-country and track, setting the UR cross-country course record and earning a state championship in the two-mile and cross-country events. Most notably, he was part of a group of cross-country members coached by William Lumpkin, known as "Lumpkin's Lopers", who went undefeated over the 1949 season –the only team to ever do so in UR history. 

Bill continued his education in graduate school at the University of North Carolina. He was granted a full fellowship in exchange for teaching freshmen-level physical education classes and coaching the freshmen cross-country and track team. The opportunity, and his team’s undefeated record over the season, led to an offer as an instructor and assistant track coach at North Carolina State (1954-1955), and ultimately as Head Coach of cross-country and track at Wake Forest University (1955-1966). 

At just twenty-eight when he started his role as Head Coach at Wake Forest, Bill spent 11 years building both the track team and his family. Having married fellow Richmond Spider Nancy Carpenter in 1954, the couple welcomed two daughters in 1955 and 1958. Without much support from the school, Bill grew the Wake Forest team from just two athletes to be a strong contender within the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). He even drew up the plans to build the track when the campus moved from Wake Forest, NC to Winston-Salem.

In 1966, Bill returned to his alma mater, the University of Richmond, where he would leave a profound impact on the program and his athletes. He served as an Associate Professor, Director of Intramurals, and Volunteer Track & Field Coach until 1985 with his former coach, mentor, and lifelong friend, Coach Fred Hardy. Over their tenure, Bill and Coach Hardy coached 65 All-Americans, 10 National Champions, and three Olympians. In 1976, Bill established the University of Richmond Women's Track & Field program as a varsity sport. 

Bill collected many stories over his years of coaching. He recalled the days of cross-country races being just that: races through forests, streams, and obstacles where you never knew what might happen. At one championship race, a train intersected the course and the runners climbed up into the slow-moving freight cars and out the other side to continue toward the finish. 

Even after retiring from teaching in 1999, Bill's dedication to the sport of track continued. He served as an Assistant Track & Field Coach from 2001 to 2004 under head coaches Steve and Lori Taylor. In 2008, the University of Richmond inducted Bill into the Athletics Hall of Fame in recognition of his nearly 40-year career as both a decorated athlete and beloved coach and his pivotal role in the success of the track and field program. 

When not teaching and coaching, Bill spent summers working at camps. He purchased Camp Manakin from Coach Hardy in 1976 and ran it for nine years. The rustic day camp offered a range of outdoor activities from swimming to horseback riding. Running the camp involved the whole family as well as many friends and UR athletes serving as administrators and counselors. 

Bill was known for his work ethic, his kindness and respect for others, his humility, and his silly sense of humor. He loved a good prank: he would stage snakes in the house to scare his wife Nancy and would dress as a “phantom” in a large coat and goggles to scare his nieces and nephews at family gatherings. His antics continued with his three grandchildren where he would hide under their beds and act like a giant centipede. 

As Bill retired and transitioned out of coaching, he accomplished his dream of one day settling down on a farm as he took over management of the Carpenter family farm in Madison County. Bill managed all aspects of the farm for nearly 24 years until his final weeks when he was physically unable to do so. Over the last decade, he and his sister-in-law, Martha Carpenter, shared a household in Charlottesville although he would commute up to the farm almost daily. He’d pass his time mowing the grass, repairing something needing fixing, or “just doing nothing” while enjoying the peace of the pastures and mountain views. He loved to tour family and friends around the property, confidently driving up and down the steep fields and fording streams in his pickup truck. 

When prompted to reflect on his life, Bill wrote: “I’ve had a happy life, enjoyed what I was doing, had a wonderful family and blessed with good health…I don’t think I could have done better.” He found contentment in the everyday: “When I get up in the morning, get some coffee, read the newspaper and fail to locate my name among the obituaries, I go about my daily activities with happiness.” While today we share his name and legacy among the obituaries, his gratitude, positivity, and appreciation for simple joys continues to live on and inspire all who knew him. 

Bill was preceded in death by his brother, Alex Jordan, his sister, Ruth Jordan; and his wife, Nancy. He is survived by his sister Carolyn Green of Harrisonburg, VA; his sister-in-law Dr. Martha Carpenter of Charlottesville, VA; his children Page Jordan (Susan) of Portland, OR and Kent Child (Drew) of Bend, OR; his grandchildren Alex Child (Andrew) of Bend, OR, Ryann Child (Mark) of Seattle, WA, and Andrew Child of Corvallis, OR; and a great-grandson.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate his life at a graveside service to be held at the Robinson River Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Brightwood, VA on Saturday, July 13, 2024, 11:00 AM. Per Bill’s request, attire is “come as you are” casual. A light lunch reception will take place afterwards at his beloved family farmhouse nearby. 

In lieu of flowers, Bill requested donations be made to one of the following: 
Madison County Volunteer Fire Company, 1223 N Main St, Madison, VA 22727 or 
University of Richmond, Attn: Spider Athletics Fund–Fred T Hardy Track Scholarship, Athletics Department-Robins Center, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA 23173


Robinson River Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery: For GPS: use Brightwood Ruritan Club, 4689 Lillards Ford Rd Brightwood, VA 22715 - cemetery is adjacent 

Reception at the family farmhouse: For GPS: use Pete’s Auction address*, 2858 N Seminole Trail (Hwy 29), Brightwood, VA 22715 - the farmhouse is up on the hill directly across the highway from this address
*Please do not park at Pete’s Auction. He has an event that same day. Please park up at the farm on the driveways or on the grassy areas