Roy Edward Short was born to Alma Ruth and Ralph Short on July 8, 1952, in Fort Worth, Texas, where Ralph worked at Convair (later bought by General Dynamics). The family lived there until Roy was in 6th grade when they moved to Helena, Arkansas to purchase Short’s Fabric Center, which remained the family business until 1991. He spoke fondly of what always sounded like an idyllic childhood: loving parents and a doting older sister, complete freedom to run the neighborhood, summertime trips to visit family in neighboring states, and best of all the much anticipated side trip to the infamous “Broken Cookie Factory” on the way to Texarkana where you could get a big bag of windmill cookies for about a quarter.
Helena, strategically located along the Mississippi River, became one of several Delta towns famous for Blues music. Many of you know Roy as bass guitarist for the Astronauts, but Roy could also really make the harmonica sing, which came from being immersed in that music scene from an early age. Roy was a self-taught musician. He could listen to music and then replicate it after a little practicing. It wasn’t until later that he realized he enjoyed singing, too.
After high school, Roy spent two years at Arkansas State University before setting off to see a bit of the world. His wanderings took him to Santa Fe, New Mexico; San Antonio and Garland, Texas; Columbia, Missour;, and finally down to south Florida where he discovered the land of warm tropical waters and eternal sunshine. He remained there from 1978 to 1991, first as a strawberry farmer in Sarasota, then working for Environmental Services Unlimited in Fort Myers. In December 1990, he met his future spouse, Annie Hankins, at Manatee Springs State Park campground. Life was never the same, and within a year, Roy had followed Annie back to the Pacific Northwest where they made their permanent home.
Roy had worked with children at Woodhaven Learning Center in Columbia, Missouri in the late 70s and later for an adult group home in Olympia. These experiences inspired him to attain his degree in Special Education from Central Washington University. Roy and Annie both taught in Yakima for a time. They were married in 1995, and daughter Jasmine was born in 1998. In the fall of that same year, Roy accepted a job at Black Hills High School, where he served as Life Skills teacher for the next 20 years. In 2007, son Reed came along and the family was complete. After he retired in 2016, Roy enjoyed more time for friends and family, and rededicated himself to protecting the environment by starting Friends of Woodard Bay.
Roy will be remembered as an easy-going guy who was easy to be around. He always managed to find the lighter side of things and his sense of humor brightened our days and turned the mundane into something new and imaginative. He loved the outdoors, with wilderness backpacking and camping a favorite pursuit with family and friends Camping on a cold and rainy day, Roy would be at his best, with jokes, stories, and antics. He would be out of the tent early to make hot drinks for everybody. He told epic stories, customized for each child to keep them going over the miles. Roy knew how to enjoy the finer things in life: a cuddle on the couch, a soak in the sun, a spontaneous song, a good cup of coffee, a silly impersonation, a playful chase around the house--bedtime shenanigans that kept the family up late--but oh so fun. He was never in a hurry and took nothing for granted. Roy made a point to tell us each and every day that he loved us. He was big hearted and gentle and would rather let things go than become angry. Roy was all love and no ego and had little interest in competition.
Roy fought his illness hard and never wanted to be defined by its limitations. He saw the best in others and made the best of difficult situations. Roy was an optimist, and when you were with him the glass was always at least half full. He had a true gift---he knew how to be happy, and he brought so much happiness to our lives, for which we will always be grateful.
Roy passed away June 15, 2019. He is survived by his spouse, Annie Hankins; daughter, Jasmine Short; son, Reed Short; a sister, Sandy Merrell; and nieces, Tracey Moore and Joanna Harness. He also leaves three great nieces and a great-nephew.
A memorial service will be held at Olympia Unitarian Universalist Church, 2315 Division St. NW, Olympia, WA 98502, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, 2019.
Donations may be made in Roy’s name to The Community for Interfaith Celebrations, 210 17th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501 or online by clicking HERE. Donations also may be made to The Friends of Woodard Bay.