Edward Earnest Short

Edward Earnest Short, Coupeville’s chief of police 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. He attended Georgia Military Academy as a boy, and enlisted in the Navy in 1941. He served with distinction on a number of ships, including the USS Clemson, Daly, Mustin, Albany, Beltrami, Coney, Norris and 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 boatswain’s mate first class, which he later changed to aviation electrician first class.

In 1957 Ed married Murrieal Coiteux in Vancouver. Two years later they moved to Coupeville, and Ed was stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station with a seaplane squadron. During the Korean War he was reassigned to Alameda, Calif.

Their hearts remained in Coupeville, and in January 1963, one week after he retired from the 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 Feb. 1, 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 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 off the water. He was in charge of the operation of the sewer system and was also 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 family and welcoming them to town. Broken water lines, frozen pipes and criminal mischief meant Ed was always on call. He often worked weekends and holidays to give other employees time off.

Ed served under seven mayors: 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 said 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 said, most of them to out-of-towners speeding toward the Keystone ferry.

He retired from the police force in 1984 and immediately went to work for Chuck’s Electric, where he remained until the mid-1990s. 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 items.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Murrieal Irene Short, and a son, Mark Edward Short, both of Coupeville; and two sisters, Shirley Hunnicutt and Linda Gardner, both of Quinton, Ala.

Graveside services with full military honors were Monday at Sunnyside Cemetery with Rev. Mary Boyd officiating. That was followed by a memorial service at Coupeville United Methodist Church.

Memorials may be made to the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation, Coupeville United Meth-odist Church Memorial Fund or the Island County Historical Society.

Arrangements were under the direction of Burley Funeral Chapel, Oak Harbor.

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