President adviser Hamilton Jordan, dabbing at his eyes as he quietly greeted family friends, attended a simple graveside service for his father here yesterday.
A retired Army major and mainstay of Albany civic affairs for 30 years, 69-year-old Richard Lawton Jordan died Friday at a local hospital following a stroke. His wife and three children --including Hamilton -- were at his bedside.
Vice President Mondale led a group of 40 White House officials and aides who flew in from Washington for the 20-minute service, during which the elder Jordan was eulogized as a man "whose mission was caring for people who needed support and encouragement."
The elder Jordan never sought political office, choosing instead to serve with groups such as the United Way, the Salvation Army and the Easter Seal Society.
"He always took a great interest in politics, though. And that's what got me interested." Hamilton Jordan said of his father after the service. "He always thought politics was important."
Jordan, President Carter's closest adviser, said his father had taken an active but informal part in the Georgia-based campaign to elect Carter, traveling to Florida with the "Peanut Brigade" and helping out at the Albany campaign headquarters.
"The last couple of years he'd been sick and he really shouldn't have gone to Florida," Jordan said. "But he was a big Jimmy Carter fan, a real booster. He really talked it up."
Flanked by Carter's son Chip and Chip's wife Caron. Hamilton Jordan held his mother's arm during the service. The pastor, Bill Nichols of the First Baptist Church of Albany, read the eulogy as about 300 spectators, most outside the area of the service cordoned off by Secret Service agents, looked on.
Among those attending the service from Washington were press secretary Jody Powell, presidential counselor Robert Lipshutz, pollster Pat Caddell, special trade negotiator Robert S. Strauss, national Democratic party chairman John C. White, and congressional liaison chief Frank Moore.
Also attending were Office of Management and Budget Director James T. McIntire Jr. and his predecessor, Bert lance.
"He was really quite a guy," Lance said of the elder Jordan. "He was active in just about everything in this community for a long, long time."