Vernon E. Jordan Jr. never held elective office, was never a member of the Cabinet and never even worked for the federal government. He was a lawyer who rarely appeared in court, a corporate kingmaker who was not a registered lobbyist, a political strategist who did not direct a campaign.
Yet Mr. Jordan was, for years, one of the most influential figures in Washington. With a commanding presence, personal charm and an inviolable sense of discretion, he had a rare combination of talents that made him the confidant of presidents, congressional leaders, business executives and civil rights figures.
Mr. Jordan was the consummate Washington power broker, reaching the peak of his quiet authority during the 1990s, when he was, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton’s closest adviser. He had Clinton’s ear through two terms as president, including the most challenging moments, when Clinton faced an investigation and impeachment for a relationship with a White House intern.
“The last thing he’d ever do is betray a friendship,” Clinton said in 1996. “It’s good to have a friend like that.”
Mr. Jordan died March 1 at his home in Washington. He was 85. The death was confirmed by his daughter, Vickee Jordan. She declined to state the cause.