Dr. James "Jimmy" Alexander Jordan, of Martinsville, passed away on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the age of 61 after a lengthy, valiant battle with COVID-19. He was born on Oct. 18, 1959, in Charlotte, N.C., to Patricia Kelly Jordan and the late Lloyd Alexander Jordan, Jr.
Jimmy’s magnetic personality, brimming with optimism, shone through in every conversation and interaction. An accomplished dentist, musician and athlete, he was a well-loved community leader and an instant friend to most everyone who met him. A beacon of vibrant light and positivity, Jimmy will continue to have a profound impact on those he touched.
A 1978 graduate of Martinsville High School, Jimmy was involved in numerous high school clubs and civic groups, including the MHS concert and jazz bands (as a senior, he was voted by his classmates as the John Phillip Sousa Award winner, recognizing him as the most outstanding graduating band student). He was also a multi-year member of the varsity football team. One of just a handful of sophomores to meaningfully contribute to the MHS football team that won a state title in 1976, Jimmy was an all-state linebacker and all-district running back as a senior. He often served as lead blocker for classmate Dennis Mahan, a high school all-American running back. Jimmy accepted an undergraduate scholarship to play football at the University of Richmond, where he started his final two years at fullback, leading the way for Spider tailback Barry Redden, who was drafted in the first round by the L.A. Rams in 1982.
After receiving his degree from Richmond, Jimmy attended dental school at the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry, from which he graduated in 1985. He then returned home to Martinsville, initially practicing dentistry under Dr. Leon Lackey. He soon purchased the practice from Dr. Lackey and remained a staple in the MHC dental community for more than 30 years. He sold his practice, Smith River Smiles, in 2020, but continued seeing patients into early 2021 under the Henritze Dental Group. Music was always an integral part of Jimmy’s life.
After playing piano from an early age, he took up saxophone in grade school and continued playing it for more than 45 years. On sax, he was a full-time member of numerous bands over the decades, including The Secret Band and, most recently, Slick Jr. & The Reactors, and the Pumphouse Blues Band. He played at countless venues in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, including multiple performances on the stages of the Rives Theatre and the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, both in Martinsville, as well as Floydfest. He was a sought after on-stage guest for a long list of bands in Virginia and surrounding states.
As a fan, Jimmy attended more than 1,000 concerts. He made more than a dozen trips, each, to the Telluride (Colo.) Bluegrass Festival, Merlefest, Floydfest and French Quarter Fest in New Orleans. Additionally, he attended all 11 Rooster Walk festivals. His favorite band was The Grateful Dead, though he loved all genres of music, including jazz, bluegrass, newgrass, rock, blues, jam and funk.
A lifelong supporter of the arts, Jimmy served as a board member for the Piedmont Arts Association, the Artisan Café, and Arts at the Rives Theatre, among others. A long-time, main-stage emcee at Rooster Walk, he ascribed to the festival’s motto of, “appreciate the present.” As an event organizer, he was a key component in ushering a renaissance of live music to Martinsville-Henry County in the mid-to-late 2000s and occasionally hosted concerts on the stage he built at his Shining Star Farm venue on Barrows Mill Road.
Beyond music, Jimmy cherished spending time with family and friends. He loved his condo at Sunset Beach, N.C., where he aspired to watch every sunrise and sunset. He held an equal fondness for the mountains, and had hoped to purchase a cabin in Southwest Virginia before his passing. He was an avid cyclist and golfer.
After enjoying the nightlife as a young adult, Jimmy had been sober for more than 20 years. He helped countless others embark on, and complete, the journey of sobriety, and served as not only a confidant and guide, but a concrete example that life could be just as fun, rewarding and exhilarating without the crutch of substance.
Jimmy preferred to take the scenic route, and he always stopped to take pictures. He believed in the power of positive energy, positive thinking, karma and “keeping things in perspective.” He often reached out to friends and loved ones just to say, “Hi.” He was an exceptional hugger, and human.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by a son, Riggs Alexander Jordan; a daughter, Caroline Kelly Jordan; a brother, Carter Lee Jordan and his wife, Mary Lynn Jordan; a niece, Mary Carter Jordan; and nephews Joshua Jordan and Spencer Jordan, who is married to Chelsea Jordan. He was preceded in death by his father.
A visitation will be held from 2 until 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2021 at First Baptist Church of Martinsville, followed by a Celebration of Life Service at 4 p.m. Interment will be private. McKee-Stone Funeral Home in Martinsville is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Martinsville YMCA (3 Starling Ave. Martinsville, VA 24112), Rooster Walk Inc. (PO Box 601 Martinsville, VA 24114) , and Arts at The Rives (PO Box 3067 Martinsville, VA 24115).