Isabel Jordan died January 18th in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico due to complications from a fall. Born Isabel Nesbit Riddle in Passaic, New Jersey on October 17th, 1927, she was raised on a farm with her parents Isabel Daley and Raymond Riddle in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
In 1945, at age 17 she married Jules Lynn Jordan in Springfield, Massachusetts. They had two children, Gail Marguerite and William Thomas. The new family moved between California and Massachusetts as Jules studied to be a chiropractor.
During her time in Santa Cruz, Isabel was reunited with her daughter Susan who she had given up for adoption 22 years earlier. She had searched for her for many years and once found, Isabel orchestrated an elaborate ‘accidental’ meeting. They became best friends and had ten years together when tragically Susan was killed in a bicycle accident.
In1966 during the construction of the campus, Isabel began working at UCSC. She became the Assistant to the Provost in 1969 and the first woman in the UC system to hold the position.
However, it was not meant to be. In 1970 she traveled to Mexico on a vacation for one week. She returned the following summer where she met Pepe Diaz, grandson of Porfirio Diaz, president of Mexico during the revolution in 1876. She returned home, quit her job, sold her house, took a crash course in Spanish and moved to Yelapa, a small fishing village with no roads or electricity. Isabel lived in Yelapa for 38 years. She created a wildly beautiful jungle compound to which friends and travelers flocked each year. It was here that Isabel belonged. She built rock walls, battled army ants, kayaked everyday she could and hiked the ever-failing water lines. Several times a year she would leave her ocean village and travel into the Sierra Madre to trade and celebrate with the Huichol Indians. She published the books: The Huichol of Mexico and The Huichol of Mexico: The Shaman with her friend Peter Collins.
In 2007, on her 80th birthday, Isabel gave herself the gift of Bali, where she traveled alone for five weeks, teaching English and eventually sponsoring the education of a young girl, Yan Ayi.
Many of us have said that Isabel was the most amazing person we have ever known. Isabel traveled the world, burned at BURNING MAN, jazzed in New Orleans, and listened intently to everyone she met along the way. She will continue to inspire us all.
A celebration of Isabel’s life will be held on March 22 in Yelapa, Mexico and in Boonville, California in May. She was preceded in death by her sister Mertie, and Brothers Bill and Ray. She will be missed by her son Bill (Joey) Jordan, daughter, Gail (Bill) Meyer grand-children Scarlet and Russell, brothers Don, Jack and their families, almost-daughter Dee Hooker and by her pueblo Yelapa. And a zillion others. She was 81 years forever young.