Leilani Jordan, 27, Dies; Disabled, but Helping Shoppers


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

When Leilani Jordan went to work as a supermarket greeter in Largo, Md., during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, she “did it from her heart, not for the money,” her mother said.

Ms. Jordan helped older shoppers make their purchases, wheeled their carts to cars and even accompanied some to the restroom when necessary.

“She said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work because no one else is coming in early to help the senior citizens,’” her mother, Zenobia Shepherd, said in an interview. “She wanted to help anybody she came in contact with. And, her customers have been calling me to tell me, ‘thank you.’”

Those calls have been coming since April 1, the day Ms. Jordan died. She was 27. The cause was complications of the virus, her mother said.

Leilani Margurite Jordan was born on Oct. 22, 1992, in Honolulu to William C. Jordan Sr. and Zenobia (Toomer) Jordan. She was one of six children of a military couple and traveled widely before her mother remarried and settled in Upper Marlboro, Md., east of Washington, with her second husband, Charles E. Shepherd Jr.

Ms. Jordan graduated from Wise High School in Prince George’s County and earned an associate’s degree in biblical studies in 2017 from Breakthrough Bible College and Theological Seminary in Maryland.

She completed a sign language course at Prince George’s Community College, where she also enrolled in a hospitality services management program to pursue her dream of one day managing a supermarket.

Visually impaired (she had a service dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Angel) and coping with other vulnerabilities, she was employed by the Giant Food supermarket chain under a program for people with disabilities.

Ms. Jordan began feeling ill around the middle of last month; her last day at work was March 16. She later tested positive for the virus, her mother said. After her condition deteriorated, she collapsed with a 104-degree fever on March 26 in the parking lot of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where she was going for treatment. She died there that day.

Before dying she was able to record a video message for her family, which they found on her phone, her stepfather told CNN. “She told them, you know, ‘See you on the other side,’” he said.

A spokeswoman for Giant Food said Ms. Jordan had not worked at the store since federal health officials recommended that everyone wear face masks, and that the company had learned of her illness only on March 28.

After Ms. Jordan died, the mail brought a “Values in Motion” certificate recognizing her exemplary service to Giant and its customers; a five-year tenure pin; and her final paycheck for the few hours she worked in her last week. It was for $20.64.

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