James Smith, of Houston, knew Ruben Jordan was a talented football player when he began coaching him at John Tyler High School in 1976.
But it was during the time the two later coached together at Clear Creek ISD that Smith got a clearer view of Jordan’s character.
Smith said Jordan would pick players up from their homes, as well as drop them off, if they needed rides to school or practice.
Jordan was also known to provide meals for students who were hungry, and would even help aid them on job searches.
“I’ve seen him, because of his connections, go to jobs and talk to people about hiring kids that need jobs,” Smith said. “He has touched so many lives.”
Jordan, a League City resident who grew up in Tyler, died after he went missing in Hurricane Harvey-related flooding on Aug. 26. He was 58.
Around 200 people gathered to celebrate his life during a memorial service at Liberty Baptist Church on Saturday.
Speakers at the service described Jordan as a loyal family member and friend, dedicated father and a compassionate and productive coach.
Grady Turner, who spoke on behalf of about 30 members of the John Tyler Class of ’77 who were in attendance, said Jordan’s style of play on the football field was a good reflection of the way he lived.
“He left it all on the field,” Turner said. “(He had an) unselfish, hardworking, kind, loving spirit -- sacrificing for others.”
Jordan’s talents on the field earned him a full athletic scholarship to Tyler Junior College. He went on to play football and graduate from Lamar University in Beaumont.
“As gifted as an athlete as he was, he was 10 times a better man,” Turner said.
Ruben began his career as a coach and teacher at Hardin Jefferson ISD in 1982 before transferring to Clear Creek ISD, where he served as an assistant coach and head track coach for 28 years. He retired from teaching and coaching in 2016, and was the owner of Friendswood Driving School.
During the service, Superintendent Melton Timmons, of Jones Valley Community Church of God in Christ, used football analogies to encourage attendees to emulate the selflessness and kindness that he says Ruben exhibited during his final days.
“Ruben saw a problem and he decided ‘I need to tackle this problem,’” Timmons said. “Ruben blocked his fear. He scored by trying to save somebody else.”
The memorial service came about a week after the time some family members and friends of Jordan’s began to call and message him to see how he was doing.
Sylvia Key, of Tyler, said the family was devastated to hear the news of her brother’s death, but has been encouraged by the large outpouring of support they’ve received.
She said an additional service would take place in Friendswood in upcoming weeks as conditions improve in the area.
“There is so much love and support, so we are able to strengthen ourselves and move forward and think about the legacy that Ruben left behind,” Key said. “There’s a lot more people down there … that have not found their loved ones.
“We pray for them because we know what they are going through,” she said. “(God) just allowed us to find Ruben early.”