Edward Earnest Short, Coupeville’s chief of Ppolice for more than 20 years, died Dec. 4, 2002, at Whidbey General Hospital. He was born July 8, 1924, in Quinton, Ala., to Shirley and Pearl (Vance) Short.
Ed’s life was one of service to his country and the town he dearly loved. Having attended the Georgia Military Academy as a boy, he later enlisted in the Navy in 1941. He served with distinction on a number of ships, including the U.S.S. Clemson, Daly, Mustin, Albany, Beltrami, Coney, Norris and the Coral Sea. His medals include the World War II Victory Medal, American Defense Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, as well as the American Area and Asiatic Pacific Area Medals. He achieved the rank of Bosun’s Mate First Class, which he later changed to Aviation Electrician First Class.
In 1957, Ed married Murrieal Coiteux in Vancouver and two years later moved to Coupeville. Stationed as NAS Whidbey with a seaplane squadron, Ed was reassigned to Alameda, Calif., during the Korean War, but their hearts remained in Coupeville. In January 1963, one week after he retired from service, Ed was asked by Mayor Ralph Ward to return to Coupeville as chief of police. Ed put on the badge and went to work on the first of February, beginning two decades of commitment to the people and the town in which he lived for the rest of his life.
Coupeville had not had a police force very long and Ed was not only the chief of police, but also the entire force for many years. In the beginning, he wore a number of hats. Every morning he would check the meters of the town wells, turn on the water and chlorinate it. In the evening, he would read the meters again and turn the water off. He was in charge of the operation of the sewer system and was also served as the dogcatcher.
Conscientious, hardworking and down to earth, Ed was a beloved figure in Coupeville. His sense of humor and Southern drawl added to his low-key charm. Ed would turn on the water at the houses of new residents and then spend time getting to know the new family and welcoming them all to town. Broken water lines, frozen pipes and criminal mischief meant Ed was always on call. Often he would work weekends and holidays to give town employees time off.
Ed served under seven mayors including Ralph Ward, Vic Sealey, Ed Spromberg, Lysle Zylstra, Mel Case, Jack McPherson and Lew Naddy. From the beginning, the exercise of his authority was like that of the mythical Mayberry. He once told a reporter that when he came to Coupeville, the mayor told him the town had the money to pay his salary and that he didn’t have to make money giving tickets. “You’ve got to write a few” Ed admitted, most of them to out-of-towners speeding toward Keystone Ferry.
Ed retired form the police force in 1984 and immediately went to work for Chuck’s Electric, where he remained until the mid-90s. Despite the gradual decline of his health, Ed continued to work in his garden and, until the end, was happy to help friends’ fix broken equipment and electrical problems.
Ed is survived by his wife of 45 years, Murrieal Irene Short and son Mark Edward Short, both of Coupeville; by two sisters, Shirley Hunnicutt and Linda Gardner, both of Quinton, Ala.
Friends will gather at the Coupeville United Methodist Church at 1:15 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, 2002, for a procession to Sunnyside Cemetery. Graveside services will begin at 1:30 p.m. with Rev. Mary Boyd officiating. Full military honors and a piping over ceremony will follow under the auspices of the NAS Whidbey Island Honor Guard. A memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. at the Methodist Church with a reception to follow for family and friends at the church fellowship hall.
Memorials may be made to the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation, the Coupeville United Methodist Church Memorial Fund of the Island County Historical Society Collections. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Burley Funeral Chapel, Oak Harbor, Washington. The obituary can be seen on-line at http://burley.plan4ever.com.