In the history of Takoma Park, Lee A. Jordan has a chapter of his own.

The former baseball player and coach, known as "Mr. Lee" to many of the city's children, whom he served so long, and as the "unofficial mayor" to the adults, died Feb. 23. His funeral Saturday drew few tears from the several hundred admirers; instead, Jordan's friends and family members spoke of the happiness he brought them.

"He was a good coach to me. I remember telling him that if it weren't for him I wouldn't have been the athlete that I was. What he said stuck with you forever," said Jerry Fuller during the service at Parker Memorial Baptist Church, where Jordan was a deacon for 51 years.

"I was 7 when I first met him. He taught me to play hard and to be a disciplined player, and I held on to that even when I played sports in junior high school, high school and college," said Fuller, who went on to run track at Catholic University and now lives in Upper Marlboro.

Attending the funeral were men who as youngsters had been coached in football, basketball and baseball by Jordan. Some of the girls he talked with in the hallways as a custodian at Blair High School and Takoma Park Junior High School also were there, now grown up. And other adults who had called on Jordan when they needed help with their children came to the service, as did Montgomery County officials who had urged him on in his quest to improve the lives of Takoma Park's residents.

"I've known him since 1918, and in those years we never had a cross word with each other," said 75-year-old Joseph Thornton.

"He inspired a lot of kids, you know, kept them off the streets. The young people had a lot of respect for him," said Jerald Hall, 19, of Silver Spring.

Jordan, a Mississippi native, moved to Takoma Park in 1918 and was a gifted athlete. He played for the Homestead Grays in the Negro Baseball League when blacks were barred from playing in the major leagues.

It was through his love for sports that Jordan came to know Takoma Park's children. After his playing days, Jordan, who never completed high school, concentrated on youth sports. He coached high school sports and organized the area's first co-ed youth sports teams while raising money to buy team uniforms and equipment. His former players have become high school and college athletes, business leaders, teachers, police officers and local politicians.

As a coach, Jordan worked with former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Barber, Tom Brown, who played for the Green Bay Packers and pitched for the Washington Senators, and Morgan Wooten, director of athletics and head basketball coach at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville.

"He taught me a lot about coaching, but more about life," said Wooten, who could not be at the funeral. "He was the most caring, sharing, giving person I ever met in my life. He lived his life for other people."

In 1981, the Montgomery Department of Recreation spent $70,000 to renovate the baseball field at the Takoma Park Junior High School. The field was renamed for Jordan.

Jordan was a custodian at the junior high school when he retired in 1973. He continued to work with young people, steering them off the streets and into organized sports, allowing them to play only if they had good grades.

Hortense Sutton, librarian at Takoma Park Intermediate School for 22 years, likened Jordan to an ambassador of young people.

"He was their inspiration, the father they never had and someone who made young people believe in themselves," Sutton said.

She recalled a time 19 years ago when her 5-year-old son stormed into the house beaming because Jordan told him he could ride his bicycle with training wheels in a Fourth of July parade.

"After the parade {her son} took those training wheels off and never used them again," she said.

Sammie Abbott, a former Takoma Park mayor and a longtime friend of Jordan, remembers him as a compassionate man who helped integrate recreational sports teams in Montgomery County.

"He just assumed that blacks and whites were supposed to play together," he said.

"He had a sense of dignity about him. He never raised his voice with the children and his language was impeccable," said Abbott, whose son, now a physician in California, played sports under Jordan.

Jordan died at Washington Adventist Hospital after suffering for more than a year from diabetes and arthritis. He is survived by his wife, Helen; four children; 13 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren, most of whom attended the nearly two-hour service.

In 1983, Takoma Park Mayor Steven Del Guidice proclaimed Feb. 23 as "Lee A. Jordan Day" as part of the city's celebration of Black History Month. Five years later to the day, Jordan died.