Jordan overcomes odds to build successful career at Cowley College
Enduring heartaches and overcoming a life threatening ordeal, Lynne Jordan has forged ahead to carve out a long, fulfilling career at Cowley College.
Jordan, who has spent more than 20 years in various positions at the college, will retire as accounts
payable specialist on Aug. 1, 2009.
Jordan was born in Vian, Okla. and moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa , shortly thereafter her father passed away. Her family (mother and sister) returned to Vian when she was nine years old from there she spent her teenage years attending schools in Okmulgee and Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
She married Freddy Shacklefoot and moved to Arkansas City in1966. She later married Lester James Jordan in1970 and they raised three children, Melody Murdoch, Melissa Bugg, and Craig Leon Jordan.
Her first job was working as a meter maid for the Arkansas City Police Department. She also worked at TG&Y and was the coordinator for a restaurant called the Bar-B-Q Palace in Arkansas City prior to working at the college.
In 1980, Jordan and the family were dealt a crushing blow, her husband, Lester, died in a terrible fire. Jordan went on to raise her children and began working at Cowley College in 1986 as a part-time employee in the cafeteria. In the summer of 1987, she became a part-time custodian for the college.
In the fall of 1987, Jordan suffered a catastrophic illness while attending church. Jordan had a brain aneurysm, the communicating artery in her brain exploded. Due to the aneurysm, she suffered several seizures and strokes.
Because her daughter, Melissa, worked for Dr. Alvarez in Arkansas City, Dr. Alvarez decided to fly Jordan
to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita , Kan., so she would not die in front of her children.
Her children all met at the hospital in Wichita anyway. They went through several doctors listed in the phone book before finding one that would perform the surgery needed to try and save Jordan ’s life. Dr. Eustacio Abay performed the surgery and afterwards told the family that Jordan would most likely be handicapped and have short and long-term memory loss due to the strokes and brain damage she had endured.
The road ahead Jordan had to face would be long and hard. Unable to afford physical therapy treatment, Jordan would perform physical therapy exercises at home.
Led by her faith and her daughter Melissa’s tough love, Jordan slowly began to get better.
“Melissa said I was not handicapped, I was handicapable,” Jordan said. “She said the world won’t change for you, you are going to have to adapt and figure this out. It was very challenging in the beginning,
I had no fight in me.”
To help Jordan in her recovery, Melissa used the tough love approach by taking her mother to the grocery store and dropping her off with a checkbook and a grocery list.
“She wanted me to take charge of my own life,” Jordan said.
Following another health scare a year later in which she had to have emergency gall bladder surgery, Jordan overcame the odds and returned to work as a full-time custodian at Cowley College on June 12, 1989.
“It gave me a reason to go on and made me realize I could be alright,” Jordan said. “If God let me live, there had to be a reason. Every day I try to tell somebody if you believe you want to do something bad enough, you can do it.”
After returning to work, one day Jordan was visiting with fellow co-worker, Judy Queen’s husband, Jerry. He asked Jordan if she liked what she did for a living.
“I said I was comfortable with it, but he said I could do more,” Jordan said.
Two weeks later, Jordan received a card from Mr. Queen saying “Congratulations on your Graduation.”
“He was challenging me,” Jordan said.
Jordan decided to take the challenge and started taking classes at Cowley College in the fall of 1991. She started by taking one computer class.
“The doctor said don’t be discouraged if you can’t do this,” Jordan said. “Needless to say I did it and took two more classes the next semester.”
Jordan went on to graduate from the college in 1996 with a 3.73 grade point average. She eventually moved on to become the college’s shipping and receiving clerk in 1999.
While taking classes at Cowley, Jordan suffered another loss of a loved one as her granddaughter, Meghan Bugg, was prematurely born in 1993. Meghan only lived 45 days. The support and well wishes Jordan got from her religious community and Cowley co-workers helped her to get through the grief. Then in 2001, Jordan’s grandson, Michael Craig Daniels, who suffered from Lupus, passed away at the age of 14.
Her losses through the years has had a strong effect on Jordan.
“They all effect you in different ways,” Jordan said. “Grandchildren are the love of your life, I lost them but I did not lose their love or my love for them. I am still here and I think about them everyday. Losing them made me stronger. I’m going to feel pain like everyone, but grief took me to a place where I needed to go to be a more loving, compassionate, and understanding person.”
She remembers a bus filled with Cowley employees attending Michael’s funeral.
“My coworkers filled up the back of that church in Oklahoma, which told me they cared,” Jordan said. “They became my family, and to care about a person is one of the greatest gift you can give.”
Jordan went on to spend five years as shipping and receiving clerk before taking over her current position of accounts payable specialist on April 11, 2005.
As accounts payable specialist, Jordan pays the college’s bills and helps keep their credit standing in good graces. She has enjoyed keeping the college on track.
“It’s not what place you are in, it’s who you are in that place,” Jordan said. “Working here has been a horizon broadening experience. I have met young adults, and impacted some, and I have made some endearing relationships that will last forever.”
Outside of the college, Jordan serves as secretary for Habitat for Humanity in Arkansas City and has represented the school and Ark City community at service learning projects. She also works with the youth and Women’s Christian Council at St. James Church of God and Christ.
In her free time, she enjoys painting and spending time with her grandchildren, Matthew 19, Mark 13, Kelsey 12, Dayton 10, and Dylan 8. She also has two grandsons, Jared Case and Tanner Strunk, the children of her goddaughter Kelly Case-Ornelas.
Jordan is looking forward to retirement.
“I am going to have the time of my life and am going to enjoy all my grandkids,” Jordan said.
However, she will always have a place in her heart for the people at Cowley College.
“As Cowley grew larger, so did I; I grew a bit older,” Jordan said. “I will miss the people here. I’m coming back twice a week to have coffee with the girls.”