Charles R. Jordan received the Pugsley Medal in 1995. He is perhaps the leading evangelist in the parks and recreation field of his time. He is an articulate, passionate visionary who has inspired thousands of professionals in the field and citizens in his home community of Portland, to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of those around him.
He was born in Texas, but as a young person moved to Palm Springs, California. At six-foot-seven he thought he might have a future in basketball and aspired to be a coach. After college he went on to work as a recreation leader for the city of Palm Springs in 1961, his home town, and that launched his influential career in the field. Jordan received his BS from Gonzaga University in education, sociology and philosophy, undertaking graduate work in education at Loma Linda University, and in public administration at the University of Southern California. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by the University of Vermont.
Mayor Neil Goldschmidt supported his appointment to a city council vacancy in 1974, making Jordan the city's first African American commissioner. After his appointment, he was elected in 1976 and re-elected in 1980 and 1984. During his ten years as an elected official, Jordan was fire commissioner for two years, police commissioner for five years and parks commissioner for three years. Through experiences that ranged from responsibilities for senior and youth programs, job training, educational research, and human relations, to the duties of an urban police commissioner, Jordan brought a perspective to parks that has been described as insightful, refreshing, bold and visionary.