Frank H. Jordan, African-American physician and Dallas civil rights pioneer, son of Frank and Louvinia (Crenshaw) Jordan, was born in Clarksville, Texas, on January 19, 1906. He lived in Clarksville until he was about seven years old when his family moved to Dallas. Jordan joined the New Hope Baptist Church when he was about nine years old. As a teenager he loved to play marbles in the street at his home at 1308 Roseland Avenue. Times were tough during Jordan’s teenage years as he lived in a shotgun house with no indoor plumbing. When his father died, he and his family moved across the street to live with a friend. He was valedictorian of his Booker T. Washington High School class. Jordan studied pre-med courses at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After graduation from Meharry, he interned at St. Louis City Hospital. While he was attending college he worked at the hotels, summer resorts, and race tracks in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he waited tables, bell hopped, and worked in the kitchen.
Jordan and his wife, Julia K. Jordan, a Waxahachie native, married around 1934 and had two children—daughter Leiwanda Jordan and son Frank Jordan III. After his internship he returned to Dallas in 1936 and opened his own office in North Dallas in the Green Building on Thomas Avenue. His practice grew quickly after his arrival, and he became a well-established general practitioner among the black community. He conducted surgeries and delivered babies at Pinkston Clinic, the first black hospital in Dallas. During World War II, Jordan served as a flight surgeon in the United States Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946. He was part of the 99th Pursuit Squadron (also known as the Tuskegee Airmen), the first all-black fighter squadron in the nation.
In June 1954 Jordan was one of five black doctors allowed to practice at St. Paul’s Hospital, a Catholic institution which became the first white hospital in Dallas to integrate black physicians in its facilities. Prior to this time the only hospital facilities available to black physicians in Dallas were the Pinkston Clinic and the McMillan Sanitarium. Before the integration of black physicians in St. Paul’s Hospital, black doctors were forced to practice and operate on their own without a hospital facility. Julia Jordan recalled, “On a house call, Frank delivered a baby in the wee hours, and the mother started hemorrhaging. He knew no hospital would admit her. He literally had to give the woman a transfusion with blood from his own vein.” Jordan and six other African-American doctors were granted official staff membership at St. Paul’s in June 1956.
Aside from serving twenty-five years on the staff of St. Paul’s Hospital, Jordan also opened the first clinics for black infants in Dallas—at locations in Oak Cliff, West Dallas, and South Dallas. He provided free physicals to Boy Scouts associated with the Moorland branch of the YMCA and to athletes of Booker T. Washington High School. He attended every football game so that he could offer medical attention to injured players. He also volunteered his time to examine small children and fill out necessary medical forms in order to assist them in attending camps.
Among the civic activities that Jordan participated in was the Dunbar Club, which met at the Pythian Temple. He also owned a candy manufacturing company for a short time and worked for Atlanta Life Insurance Company, as he examined people who were applying for new policies. Jordan was the first black member to serve on Dallas’s Advisory Health Board. In 1989 he helped Booker T. Washington High School become a historic landmark. He won thirty awards from Big Brothers Association (now Big Brothers Big Sisters of America).
In 1980 Jordan, after suffering a stroke, was forced to retire from his position at St. Paul’s Hospital. On Tuesday, September 24, 1991, the eighty-five-year-old family physician died of a heart attack at St. Paul Medical Center. He was buried in Laurel Land Memorial Park. In spite of the racial barriers he encountered, the pioneering physician was not bitter. His wife commented, “He lived and died with no malice toward people.”