PRINCESS ANNE — The South Beckford Avenue park and playground was officially renamed as a memorial to local businessman and entrepreneur Earl Jordan Sr. with family now in its fifth generation attending the ceremony.
The park, bounded by South Beckford, Bratten and Peters avenue, was where two tax-delinquent houses once stood and after they were razed by the town the playground equipment was installed in 2017 through a Community Parks and Playground grant.
It was Commissioner President Lionel Frederick who suggested in June that Mr. Jordan, who died Oct. 1, 2009 at age 85, be honored in this way and the Town Commissioners approved renaming the park at their Aug. 2 meeting.
"He was such a legend in our community," Mr. Frederick said.
Mr. Jordan was a supervisor at the former Campbell’s Soup in Salisbury, retiring after more than 30 years of service. In town he operated a mobile grocery store and popular snowball truck serving Princess Anne and the surrounding area for more than 50 years.
He provided lines of credit to residents in the underserved community who could not afford groceries at the time they were available. He also owned a restaurant in town known as the Whole in the Wall.
His motto was "Bring Your Money and Get Your Honey"
A lifelong member of the Princess Anne community he and his late wife Lorraine were among the founders of Mount Carmel Baptist Church. His character and service were high marks that made lending his name to the park a fitting decision by the Town Commissioners, who hosted the dedication on Oct. 16.
Marvin Fitchett — who said he favors his grandfather — said the park dedication is "wonderful," and this act has left him speechless. "I want to thank everybody who put this together and made it possible," he said, and that it’s something his grandfather deserves, and Mr. Fitchett was not saying that just because he is a grandson.
"Over the years he taught me how to be a better person, a better man, to work for what you have and for what you want," Mr. Fitchett said.
"I’m trying to just pass that along to my children."
Another grandson, Carl "Dino" Williams, said it was an honor to the legacy of his grandfather, who many in the community still think of fondly. He recalled working on his grandfather’s truck along with Ivan Barkley, now police chief in Delmar, "a lot of days and hours...up and down these streets, into Salisbury, down in Crisfield, wherever he said it should go." He called it a "grueling learning experience."
Mary Fitchett said she was deeply honored for the park being named for her father. "I know you put a lot of work into this, I just want to say thank you," she said. "Thank you for sharing my dad."
County Commissioner President Craig Mathies Sr., who had a proclamation for the family as did the Town Commissioners and Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, said he did not grow up in town but is old enough to remember "the great joy that (Mr. Jordan) brought especially to the African American community."
Mr. Mathies, who is a pastor, said Mr. Jordan helped so many people during his lifetime, and "his life illustrates what it’s like to give of yourself."
"He was such a blessing to so many people," Mr. Mathies said, commending the Town Commissioners for making a commitment to recognize the African American residents in the community, "because it is indeed overdue."
This park, he continued, "will forever be a tribute to Mr. Jordan and his commitment to the Town of Princess Anne and the citizens of Somerset County."
— Editor’s note: the photograph accompanying this story has been digitally altered to show the park name as it should appear.