ALBANY — She’s pretty, cogent, clever, engaging, and inspirational. Lovable, kind-hearted, and selfless with an uncluttered mind, which is linked to a history of caring and giving. Class and manners, goodwill and altruism have been her companions for 101 years.
If I can just do it justice, I am moved to share with you the unadulterated joy of a morning with Louise Jordan, who grew up in Crawford in Oglethorpe County. a precocious teenage, savant-to-be, who witnessed first-hand the dedication of Sanford Stadium, Oct .12, 1929, the only Bulldog fan who could possibly make that claim. She was a freshman student who was overwhelmed with ebullient feelings as she saw the Georgia team upset mighty Yale, the scourge of The East, 15-0.
She doesn’t remember what she was wearing on that day (“Probably something light since it was a hot afternoon”), but etched in her memory is the excitement which took place and the joy that rose up from the pristine stadium, which stood majestically over Tanyard Creek. She still has her souvenir ticket ($3.00) from the game: Aisle 2. Row 25. Seat 24. She remembers the infant hedges and the hero of the game, Catfish Smith, who scored all fifteen points in Georgia’s monumental victory. She remembers the pride “all Georgians” felt with the conquest of one of the most established football powers in college football.
In her neatly arranged apartment at the Morningside Assisted Living Complex, there are mementos which reflect her remarkable longevity — a congratulatory note from Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity and one from Congressman Sanford Butler on her 100th birthday. Also her certificate for making Phi Beta Kappa. There is a UGA blanket, brought to her by Vic Sullivan, president of the UGA Alumni Society, and a vintage photo of her mother at 17 in a white dress made by her mother’s sister. “It is good to be reminded of the friends and things that have meant so much to me in my life,” she explained to Chantel Dunham of the University Research Library and Stan Jones who grew up next door to her and has an “on-call” rapport if she should need assistance for anything. “She might need a little company at times,” Stan says, “but she is very independent.”
She pronounces her last name the way Southerners do, “Jerden.” She majored in history but became a school teacher. She is the daughter of a farmer and did not belong to a sorority. She has to keep making new friends because she keeps outliving them. Her philosophy is to “live for today and maybe tomorrow.” She does her own bookkeeping, managing her own financial portfolio. She is particularly fond of her Coca-Cola stock. “It’s been good to me,” she says.
When she enrolled at Georgia, she commuted the 15 miles from Crawford every day on dirt roads, being driven to campus by a fellow student. She was enraptured by world history, remains an avid reader of the Albany Herald, and continues to read books, believing that reading is not only informative but healthy. Her husband, Louis, was a banker. They were married at the Alpha Gamma Delta House on Milledge Avenue. She was 26 years old.
This was my second visit to see this sparkling, sunny, and charming person who can talk about most any subject — from the Bulldogs to the Braves to the headliners on the nightly news. I cannot imagine coming here and not visiting this magnificent lady who is ageless. The warmth in her personality, the love in her heart, the curiosity in her intellect, the affection of her friends, and the goodwill in her nature make her one of the most delightful people I have ever met.
As I leaned down to hug her goodbye, I felt a surge of emotional enlightenment and accomplishment. I had just interviewed one of the most interesting people in the world and thought of the classic prose from Eleanor Roosevelt who once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”
Louise Kidd Jordan is a classic work of art!