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Richie Oleta Cavener Jordan

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Richie Oleta Cavener Jordan       
On Saturday, June 18, 2011, Richie Oleta Cavener Jordan passed from this life into the presence of her Savior and a host of loved ones and friends whom she had influenced to know and serve him. A celebration of her life will be Friday, June 24, 2011, at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Portales with nephews John Hinze and Chuck Moon officiating.
Oleta was born July 29, 1919, near Eldorado, Okla., to Thomas D. and Sylvania Richeson Cavener. The pioneer family moved to eastern New Mexico in September 1923 to land homesteaded by her paternal grandmother. She attended Pleasant Valley Elementary School from first through eighth grade and then began high school in Elida. In 1935, the family moved to Portales, where Oleta graduated from Portales High School in 1938. 
After attending Eastern New Mexico College from 1939-1941, Oleta was requested by the schools in Loving to teach fifth and sixth grades because of a shortage of teachers during the war. Shortly afterward, she transitioned into church work, serving as the church secretary and the director of music, youth and education at First Baptist Church in Deming.
She continued her journey into Southern Baptist work as assistant to the secretary of the Baptist Student Union and Baptist Training Union of the New Mexico Baptist Convention. Toward the end of World War II, Oleta returned to Portales to finish her degree at ENMC and worked as education and youth director at First Baptist Church. After receiving her degree in education, she taught sixth grade as well as music in first through sixth grades at East Ward (Steiner) Elementary for two years. She then transferred to the school in Floyd where she taught the same grades and subjects.
Gilbert Jordan and Oleta were married in 1945, after which they moved to California. She earned her California teaching credential and continued to teach in elementary school while Gilbert served as music and educational director in churches in several different communities. In 1965, they moved to Denver, with Oleta teaching fifth grade in the Aurora Public School District and Gilbert continuing to serve in the music ministry of various churches. After working at Hoffman Heights Elementary School many years, Oleta retired from teaching in 1981.
Oleta's desire for serving the Lord was her No. 1 priority in life. With a beautiful contralto voice, she used her musical gift by singing in many choirs and playing piano for many occasions. Bible knowledge and teaching were some of her passions and she committed much of the Scripture to memory. She also ministered to the elderly, providing home cooked food (she was an excellent cook!); cleaning their homes; and ferrying them to church services, special events and doctor appointments. Midnight trips with ailing church members to hospital emergency rooms were common events for Oleta.
Loving hospitality was another gift she freely shared. Wherever she lived, she opened her home to servicemen or others who were not able to be with family on special occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, or a Broncos football game. During her life, she grew an extensive mailing list of dear friends who had been members of former churches. Birthday and anniversary cards were regularly sent to those particularly close to her, usually followed by a phone call just to make sure they received it. Unbelievably, she mailed almost 400 Christmas cards with a family letter every year - and almost every one included a handwritten note to the recipient.
Due to declining health, Oleta was persuaded to move to Clovis in 1997 to be near some of her sisters. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2007, she began living in an assisted living facility. As the disease progressed, she was moved to St. Anthony's Rehabilitation and Care facility where she passed away Saturday, June 18, 2011. 
She was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Sylvania Cavener; her husband, Gilbert; a brother, Ladrue Cavener; and two sisters, Jennie Mae Brown and Naomi Horton. She is survived by son Ladrue Jordan and wife, Jerri, of California; grandchildren Jesse Jordan and wife, Sarah, who is due to give birth to Oleta's first great-grandchild, Alexandra Mei, on July 3, Kasey Jordan and fiance Bryan Viani, and Caleb Jordan; sisters Nina Ross and husband, Gordon, Eudora Harris, Roedean Jordan and husband, Lonnie, and Reba Camp and husband, Wayne; brother Jim Cavener and wife, Ann; and numerous nephews and nieces and a legion of friends.
Memorial contributions may be made to the New Mexico Baptist Children's Home, 2200 S. Ave. I, Portales, NM 88130.
The impact of Oleta's Christian life leaves both a legacy for all who follow and a challenge for any who accept the path of ministry and service. Her caring spirit and words of encouragement were always expressed in her personal concern for each individual. She often called and wrote letters exhorting them to stay strong in their faith, study the Word and to use the gifts God had given them. Even though her beautiful smile, loving voice and mischievous twinkling eyes will be missed by all, they will never be forgotten.
Pallbearers will be nephews Brian Arnold, Alvis Watson, Louis James, Chris Ross, Don Ross and Bobby Combs. Honorary  pallbearers will be Lonnie Jordan, Wayne Camp, Jim Cavener and all friends.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wheeler Mortuary of Portales, (575) 356-4455.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from June 23 to July 23, 2011
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