Leslie Jordan Receives ‘Love. Light. Leslie.’ Memorial Tribute in Hometown: ‘If Only We Had Had Him Longer’

leslie-jordan-tribute.jpg - Credit: Handout/Getty Images
leslie-jordan-tribute.jpg - Credit: Handout/Getty Images

“Love. Light. Leslie.” became the theme of the day following a private funeral held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for actor, singer, and comedian Leslie Jordan, who died last month at age 67 following a fatal car crash. In a public memorial of the same name, his hometown rallied together more than 2,000 people to celebrate his life.

“We knew, we knew how special Leslie was gonna be from the time he was tiny,” Jordan’s younger sister Jana Lynn “Cricket” Jordan emotionally recalled at the event. “Mama used to say, ‘He would go by the nativity set, and he’d see Joseph and Mary, and he’d say, ‘Hey Joe.’’’ It was just Leslie. He brought such light and love to everyone.”

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Jordan’s longtime partner added to the remembrance of his effortless personality in a written statement, saying: “Part of his charm was that he never understood what made him so great.”

Tributes delivered at “Love. Light. Leslie” also spanned connections and industries, with Mayor Tim Kelly calling Jordan “one of Chattanooga’s brightest stars” at the event’s start. Later, video memorials poured in from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Emerson Collins, and more.

Collins looked back on the lessons Jordan taught him by simply being himself, sharing that his greatest takeaway was learning to live “not a perfect life, but a life that is loud and proud and full of joy and forgiveness and laughter.”

Vedder recalled Jordan as “one of the brightest lights I ever witnessed,” adding: “He was joyful, inclusive, inspiring, and his limitless energy was truly contagious. We are all so blessed to have had him on this planet. If only we had had him longer.”

“I remember telling people, ‘That man deserves an Oscar,’” Burke gushed, noting working with Jordan as a career highlight. “You were brilliant — brilliant. You made millions of people happy. And you had a big heart, and you are so missed.”

Bridges shared: “With a great big smile and a wonderful open heart, Leslie brought joy to me and to all of us. And I’m so happy that I got to know you. You will always be my friend.”

Proceeds from the tribute event benefited the local organization Cempa Community Care, which provides medical services and treatments to people living with HIV. At the event, Cempa Chattanooga CEO Shannon Stephenson noted Jordan’s life as a blueprint for holding and sharing love.

“Love like Leslie,” she insisted. “Leslie loved without judgment, which is something that we strive to do each and every single day. When someone asked him about his religion — and I’m paraphrasing — he said, ‘The religion that I embrace is kindness.’ … He brought us light in the midst of one of the darkest times in our lives today. That’s who he was. He was a light for all. Simply put, Leslie rescued us all. How lucky are we that each of us got to know him as a friend?”

The day before his death, Jordan shared an Instagram video singing a hymn about going to heaven. For the post, he concluded his caption with one last guiding message: “Love. Light. Leslie.”

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