West Orange legend Jordan Baris dies

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Jordan Baris, a fixture in West Orange, died June 1 at age 93. Baris, a real estate agent who founded Jordan Baris Inc. in 1952, was a longtime member and former president of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce.

“My father was active over the decades in many organizations and for many was the president, including the West Orange Chamber of Commerce,” Ken Baris said of his father to the West Orange Chronicle. “He ran Jordan Baris Inc. and stopped personally listing and selling real estate in the 1950s. The Jordan Baris Inc. team, however, sold an astonishing amount of real estate, which to date is in the billions of dollars of closed sales and over 100,000 closed transactions. He moved to West Orange in 1963 and lived in the same house for the bulk of his life on Chestnut Road in the St. Cloud section.

“He was not showy or flamboyant. The success he was driven by was the success achieved by the Jordan Baris team. He was an innovator. Before most brokers had computers, he partnered with First Fidelity Bank to use their computers so that the company’s inventory could be readily available. This was quite unique,” Ken Baris continued. “He made sure to do things to improve West Orange and quietly supported many great organizations with time, effort, energy and financially. Many he did anonymously so his help was not perceived as being done with an agenda. His agenda was helping others.”

That agenda was clear to West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi.

“Jordan Baris is a West Orange legend,” Parisi told the Chronicle. “Besides being a successful Realtor and businessman, he was civic-minded, charitable and never hesitated to offer advice or guidance. He will be missed.”

West Orange Councilwoman Susan McCartney, who serves on the chamber board with Ken Baris, spoke to Jordan Baris’ enduring legacy.

“I have never served alongside Mr. Jordan Baris, but I can attest to the fact that for as long as I have served on the chamber board his name comes up at just about every one of our board meetings,” she told the Chronicle. “Mr. Baris’ legacy for the chamber has been to put the theory of personalizing every encounter and relationship into practice.”

Chamber President Sally Malech affirmed that Jordan Baris will be deeply missed.

 “The members of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce are deeply saddened by the loss of Jordan Baris,” she said. “Mr. Baris was a West Orange icon. He is remembered as an inspirational community leader. His vision, leadership and contributions to West Orange and the Chamber of Commerce were numerous and impactful. He will be sorely missed.”

Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Jordan Baris served his country as a member of the Navy; he served in the Pacific, primarily in the Philippines, during and following the end of World War II.

In the 1970s, Baris formed the New Jersey Coalition for Safe Communities, which brought together business, labor, religious and civic leaders to understand one another’s perspectives and develop practical solutions to reduce crime. Twice he was honored with the Realtors Community Service Award, making him one of only a handful of people to be recognized multiple times.

In addition to his civic and business accomplishments, Jordan Baris was a committed husband for 58 years, loving father to three and devoted grandfather to five.

“My father was incredibly supportive. He allowed me to make decisions even if he knew they were not going to be great choices as I learned the business. He wanted me to experience challenges and how to overcome them,” Ken Baris said. “Doing this was, I’m certain, not easy for him, but it equipped me to run our organization, which is rapidly expanding. He was a fun person who loved tennis, flying his airplane and taking his grandchildren to lunch. He never raised his voice, never used profanity, but always conveyed whatever he was communicating and people universally responded to him and felt close to him. 

“In the last two weeks, over 1,000 people reached out and for many, while they were consoling me, I had to console them because his passing away was a loss that has been profoundly felt by so many people who he helped,” he continued. “Being his son made me the luckiest person in the world, and I hope to do good in my life as he did in his. He was a role model who led by example and an inspiration who lives on.”

Photos Courtesy of Ken Baris