December 10, 2010
Some of you may be unaware that over the last month my father, Chuck Jordan, was stricken with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. Within a matter of 5 weeks my dad went from good health to his final day, which was Dec. 9th.
Throughout this trying month, he was in and out of the hospital. Initially he responded well to his treatment and the family was encouraged about his chances for recovery. However, last Tuesday we received the news that the cancer had aggressively returned. My dad weakened quickly, and died quietly at home on Thursday with his family by his bedside. It was the way he would have wanted it. As dignified as he was, he would not have wanted to linger on for weeks or months. Prayer was definitely answered.
Throughout his illness, he received e-mails and cards of ‘well wishes’ from friends and admirers. We shared them with him before he became so gravely ill. Our family wants to acknowledge and thank you all for the support and prayers that were sent his way. It meant more than you know.
He lived an amazing life, accomplished countless professional achievements, influenced and served as a role model to so many, and above all was a wonderfully great and loving Dad. As compelling as his career at GM was, his kids were always first in his heart, and he was NEVER too busy for us. It cannot be overstated how much he will be missed by his family. I feel so fortunate that throughout these last few weeks, I was able to spend some quality time with him. We had some memorable conversations during this time.
No matter how much you think you’re ready for this day, you never really are. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have had such an amazing father. I cannot ever recall a time in my life when I wasn’t anything but immensely proud of him. We shared some wonderful ‘father and son’ times together and luckily shared the same ‘passions’. As I’ve lived my life, I’ve become increasingly aware just how rare and special he was… a one-in-a-million irreplaceable Dad. How my internal landscape will change now that he is gone is hard for me to see. My world without my father in it is inconceivable.
Chuck and Mark Jordan on a parade lap around Michigan International Speedway in the ’59 Stingray in the late ’70s. MIR photos by Gary Smith.
The family will begin the planning of his memorial service at the GM Heritage Center in Warren, Michigan on January 28th. As you surely know, Dad always held a fond personal interest in design education and developing young design students. Our family will establish a design scholarship in his name and honor at the Center for Creative Studies of Detroit.
I know he wouldn’t want his friends or family to linger in grief too long. He would have us toast him at a party and remember the good times—countless times with him as patriarch of our family, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, mentor and friend. Though he is gone his influence will always remain a part of each of us. We will pass it on to family members to come.
The Jordan family would appreciate any memorial contributions sent to the ‘Charles M. Jordan’ Scholarship fund. You can go on-line to http://www.collegeforcreativestudies.edu/support/mission or send donations to:
Center for Creative Studies
201 East Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Att. Liz Klos
Published by permission.
Chuck, still judging cars, stands besides one of his designs. Taken October, 2010.
Mark with his Dad on his 83rd Birthday.
Obituary of Charles M. Jordan 1927-2010
Charles M. “Chuck” Jordan passed away at home after a brief illness, on Thursday, Dec 9 at age 83. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and a legendary automobile designer.
Charles M. Jordan was born October 21, 1927, in Whittier, California. He showed an early interest in automobiles, designing and building scale models in grade school. As a sophomore in 1947, Mr. Jordan won the General Motors Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild design competition, which provided a scholarship and was the launching point of his lifetime career at GM. Upon graduation from MIT in 1949, he joined the General Motors (GM) Design Staff as a junior designer. At the age of 26 Chuck became Chief Designer of the Special Projects studio. By the age of 30 he became Chief Designer of Cadillac. In 1962 he was named executive in charge of exterior design for GM and LIFE magazine selected Mr. Jordan as one of the “100 most important young men and women in the United States” in its “takeover generation” issue.
Mr. Jordan became Director of Design of Opel in Germany in 1967, a position he held until 1970 when he returned to GM’s U.S. design staff as executive in charge of exterior design. In 1977, Chuck was named Director of the GM design staff and in 1986 was named Vice President of Design for all of General Motors, the post which he held until retirement in November 1992. He was the fourth man ever to be elected to the position of Vice president of General Motors Design, a position he held from 1986 through his retirement in1992.
Throughout his career, he influenced the look of GM vehicles around the world. Chuck is credited with a long list of iconic designs at a time when GM set the tone for style in the industry. Some of Chuck’s design accomplishments included the 1954 GM Aerotrain, 1955 Chevrolet Cameo carrier pickup, 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, 1963 Buick Riviera, and the 1992 Cadillac CTS. During his tenure at GM Chuck’s design experience included all types of vehicles; experimental and production passenger cars, trucks, buses, trains and earth-moving equipment. His numerous awards included the Distinguished Service Citation—Automotive Hall of Fame in 1990 and an honorary Doctorate from Art Center College of Design in 1992.
After his retirement he remained active speaking and designing for various automotive organizations. Perhaps his greatest love was teaching high school students automotive design at Valhalla and La Costa Canyon high schools. He was passionate about promoting creativity in students who showed serious interest in automobile design. In June 2010, he was awarded the San Diego Channel 10 Leadership award for his outstanding dedication to these young designers.
Chuck had a great passion for Ferraris and was an avid collector of Ferrari cars, literature and scale models. One of his fondest memories was taking a ride with Enzo Ferrari in the Italian countryside in the early ’60s.
Chuck lived in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sally, son Mark, daughters Debra Bryan and Melissa Hall; four grandsons; two brothers and a sister.
As passionate about his family as he was his profession, Chuck gave tirelessly of his time and himself. The influence he had on each child and grandchild’s life is profound and indescribable. All feel blessed to have him as the head of our family and he will remain our greatest role model. The loss we feel cannot be overstated, yet we are filled with gratitude for his life and his unconditional love.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”—John 5:24