Remembering Lieutenant Governor Robert B. Jordan III

March 2, 2020
Speech Submitted to the Congressional Record

Remembering Lieutenant Governor Robert B. Jordan III

Mr. PRICE of North Carolina: Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and work of Robert B. “Bob” Jordan III, North Carolina’s former Lieutenant Governor, a civic and business leader, and a longtime friend. Bob’s death on February 16, 2020 has been met with an outpouring of fond recollections, fulsome tributes, and expressions of affection and respect that attest to his life of service and the impact it had on our state.  Lisa and I want to express our sympathy to Bob’s wife Sarah, their family, and Bob’s many friends and admirers.

A native of Mount Gilead, North Carolina, Bob attended North Carolina State University (NCSU), graduating with a degree in forestry, and was then commissioned Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served two years in Europe and rose to the rank of Captain. Bob then returned to Mount Gilead and began a long career as head of Jordan Lumber and Supply. He also showed a knack for politics and was asked at age 24 to serve on the town board. Four years later he was appointed to what is now called the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system.

Bob’s career in state politics began with his election in 1976 to the N.C. Senate, where he served for eight years, representing Montgomery, Anson, Richmond, Scotland, Stanly and Union Counties. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1984 and almost became governor, running a valiant race in 1988.

Bob had a remarkable ability to bridge divides and find common ground. He brokered a major agreement to increase investment in North Carolina’s highways, and another to finance statewide school construction. The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a monument to his leadership, as is the N.C. Biotechnology Center, the first state-funded economic development organization of its kind. 

Bob Jordan provided educational leadership throughout his career, helping established the Basic Education Program, a comprehensive plan to equalize access to education, and the Teaching Fellows program, a highly successful scholarship program for prospective teachers. He was instrumental in the creation of the present UNC governance structure and served on the Boards of Trustees for UNC-Charlotte and NCSU as well as the state community college system.

I first got to know Bob through my mentor, N.C. Senator Russell Walker, and was serving as state Democratic Chairman in 1984 when Bob was elected Lt. Governor (his election was about the only good news Democrats got that night). He was one of the most conscientious and well-motivated people I have known in politics. I agree with his friend and mine, Former N.C. Senator Gerry Hancock, who described Bob to a reporter as “one of the most honorable, decent, hard-working people we’ve ever known.”

We are indeed better for having known him, and our state is better by virtue of his steady and visionary leadership. Bob Jordan’s contribution lives on in those whose opportunities have been broadened and horizons have been extended by virtue of his dedicated service.