Leonard B. Jordan

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For the New Zealand rugby league international, see Len Jordan (rugby league).
Len Jordan
United States Senator
from Idaho
In office
August 6, 1962 – January 2, 1973
Preceded by Henry Dworshak
Succeeded by Jim McClure
23rd Governor of Idaho
In office
January 1, 1951 – January 3, 1955
Lieutenant Edson H. Deal
Preceded by C. A. Robins
Succeeded by Robert Smylie
Personal details
Born Leonard Beck Jordan
(1899-05-15)May 15, 1899
Mount Pleasant, Utah
Died June 30, 1983(1983-06-30) (aged 84)
Boise, Idaho
Resting place Cloverdale Memorial Park
Boise, Idaho
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Grace Edgington Jordan
(m. 1924–1983, his death)
Children 2 sons, 1 daughter
Parents Leonard Eugene Jordan
Irene Beck Jordan
Residence Boise, (Grangeville in 1950)
Alma mater University of Oregon, 1923
Profession Agriculture
Religion Methodist
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch US Department of the Army Seal.png U.S. Army
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank US-O1 insignia.svg  Second lieutenant
Unit (machine gun company)
Battles/wars World War I  (stateside)

Leonard Beck "Len" Jordan (May 15, 1899 – June 30, 1983) was the 23rd Governor of Idaho and a United States Senator for over ten years.[1]

Early years[edit]

Born in Mount Pleasant, Utah, Jordan's father was a county judge and his mother was a schoolteacher; the family relocated to northeast Oregon and he was educated in the public schools of Enterprise. From a large family, he worked on a ranch then enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18 in 1917. After two years in the service, he attended the University of Oregon in Eugene on a football scholarship, and was a 175 lb (79 kg) halfback for the Ducks.[2][3] Jordan graduated in 1923, and was awarded a key to Phi Beta Kappa. He married classmate Grace Edington on December 30, 1924.[4]


Jordan was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War I, but did not serve overseas. After college, he was a sheep rancher in Hells Canyon in Idaho during the Great Depression at Kirkwood Bar,[5][6] and then settled in Grangeville in 1940, where he established a farm implement business, a real estate agency, and an automobile dealership.[2]


Jordan was elected to the state senate in 1946, lost his seat in 1948, then successfully ran for governor in 1950.[2][7][8]

Idaho Gubernatorial Elections: Results 1950
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1950 Calvin Wright 97,150 47.4% Len B. Jordan 107,642 52.6%

During his four-year term, slot machines were banned; employment, unemployment, and job training services were merged; and the state highway commission was initiated.[9] Jordan did not run for re-election in 1954 because it was not allowed at the time. Starting with the 1946 election, Idaho changed from two-year to four-year terms for governor, but disallowed self-succession (re-election). Jordan's successor as governor was the former attorney general, Robert Smylie, who successfully lobbied the 1955 legislature to propose an amendment to the state constitution to allow gubernatorial re-election, which was approved by voters in the 1956 general election.[10][11] (Smylie was re-elected in 1958 and 1962, and sought a fourth term in 1966, but was defeated in the primary.)

In 1955, Jordan was appointed by President Eisenhower as Chairman of the United States section of the International Joint Commission with Canada to develop the St. Lawrence Seaway.

U.S. Senate[edit]

In August 1962, Jordan was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Smylie, following the death of Henry Dworshak in July.[12][13] In November, Jordan defeated Democratic Congresswoman Gracie Pfost of Nampa in the special election to complete the remaining four years of the term.[14][15] Jordan was re-elected in 1966, defeating former Democratic Congressman Ralph Harding of Blackfoot.[16]

U.S. Senate elections in Idaho (Class II): Results 1962–1966
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1962 Gracie Pfost 126,398 49.1% Len B. Jordan (inc.^) 131,279 50.9%
1966 Ralph Harding 112,637 44.6% Len B. Jordan (inc.) 139,819 55.4%

Source:[17] ^Jordan was appointed to the vacant seat in August 1962

In the Senate, he helped Frank Church establish the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in 1972. At age 73, Jordan did not seek re-election in 1972 and was succeeded by Jim McClure, the three-term Republican congressman from the first district. Jordan was the first from Idaho to voluntarily retire from the U.S. Senate.[18]

A state office building in Boise, near the state capitol, was named for him in December 1973.[19][20][21]


Jordan died at age 84 in Boise on June 30, 1983,[18][22] and his wife died two years later. They are interred at Cloverdale Memorial Park in west Boise.[23]

Daughter Patricia (1927–2010) married Charles F. Story, Jr. (1926–2014) of Spokane in 1951; [24] and they later lived in Boise. Eldest son Joseph (1929–2015) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) in 1952 and served three years in the U.S. Army. He went to graduate school in civil engineering at Iowa State University in Ames and was a district vice president with Morrison Knudsen in Alaska.[25] Youngest son Stephen (1932–2015) graduated from the University of Idaho in Moscow in 1955 in mechanical engineering,[26] and worked for General Electric back east and Aramco in Saudi Arabia.[27]


  1. ^ "Len Jordan, a former Senator". New York Times. Associated Press. July 2, 1983. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Edwards, Willard (November 3, 1963). "Sen. Len Jordan got start on sheep ranch in Idaho". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). (Chicago Tribune Press Service). p. 22. 
  3. ^ Washington (October 3, 1952). "Vandals seeking upset win". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 11. 
  4. ^ "Leonard B. Jordan". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Kirkwood Historical Ranch". Idaho: Grangeville Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Historical Kirkwood Ranch on the Snake River". Idaho: White Bird Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Republicans score smashing victories: Jordan wins Idaho governorship". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. November 8, 1950. p. 1. 
  8. ^ "Republicans rack up almost clean sweep of Idaho candidates". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. November 9, 1950. p. 1. 
  9. ^ "Leonard B. Jordan". National Governors Association. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Idaho voters adopt three amendments". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. November 7, 1956. p. 1. 
  11. ^ Corlett, John (March 31, 1963). "It's mystery why law barring self-succession not repealed". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). p. 5. 
  12. ^ "Jordan named Senator". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. August 7, 1962. p. 1. 
  13. ^ "Jordan sworn in as Senator". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. August 8, 1962. p. 1. 
  14. ^ "Smylie, Church, White win; Jordan leads". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. November 7, 1962. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "Jordan-Pfost race results". Associated Press. November 8, 1962. p. 2. 
  16. ^ "Gem State swept by GOP". Spokane Daily Chronicle Location=Washington. Associated Press. November 9, 1966. p. 1. 
  17. ^ "Office of the Clerk: Election statistics". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Former Idaho governor dies". Bend Bulletin (Oregon). UPI. July 1, 1983. p. A6. 
  19. ^ "Five governors to attend dedication". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. December 25, 1973. p. 5. 
  20. ^ "Building dedicated to Len Jordan". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. December 28, 1973. p. 3. 
  21. ^ Kenyon, Quayne (July 22, 1977). "Jordan building may remain unfinished". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 3C. 
  22. ^ "Former governor of Idaho Len Jordan dead at 84". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). July 1983. p. 1. 
  23. ^ "Leonard B. Jordan". Find A Grave. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  24. ^ "Miss Jordan weds Story". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. July 2, 1951. p. 10. 
  25. ^ "Joseph Leonard Jordan". Idaho Statesman (Boise). (obituary). January 31, 2015. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Seniors: Engineering". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1955. p. 254. 
  27. ^ "Stephen Edgington Jordan". The News Guard (Lincoln City, Oregon). (obituary). May 20, 2015. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
C. A. Robins
Republican Party nominee, Governor of Idaho
1950 (won)
Succeeded by
Robert Smylie
Preceded by
Henry Dworshak
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1962 special (won), 1966 (won)
Succeeded by
Jim McClure
Political offices
Preceded by
C. A. Robins
Governor of Idaho
January 1, 1951 – January 3, 1955
Succeeded by
Robert Smylie
United States Senate
Preceded by
Henry Dworshak
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
August 6, 1962 – January 3, 1973
Served alongside: Frank Church
Succeeded by
Jim McClure