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Wanda Alene Short

June 19, 1921 - May 12, 2018

U.S. Veteran

Service Date May 18, 2018

Memorial services will be 10:00 a.m., Friday, May 18, 2018 in the Maurice J. Fitzsimmons Veteran Home Chapel with Chaplain Morris Nelson officiating.  Interment will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery with military honors at 1:30 p.m.

We lost a great lady on May 12, 2018.  Her name is Wanda Short.  She lived a full, productive, and very giving life. Wanda was not rich, but she had a wealth of friends and family.  She didn’t have a college education, but she had a full knowledge of life. She never knew a stranger, but instead saw a future friend.  She was a lady in every respect, with deep faith in God.

She would not want us to mourn her death, but to celebrate her life. Many will miss her.

Wanda is survived by Teresa Gabeline; David Reich, Matthew Laib, Alice Laib, Jaime (David) Lammi; Alyssa Lammi, Ryan Lammi; Grandsons Brian Dale Short and Michael John Short; Heather Gabeline, Jamie Ladenburger, Travis Ladenburger, Joshua Ladenburger; sister-in-law Deota Nelson, niece Anita (Steven) Knutson,  great nephews Aaron, Ryan and Derrick Knutson; niece Jeanne Little,  great nephews Steve (Becky) Nelson and Jeff (Tammy) Noland, and great niece Rita (Bill) Hawk; nephew Gary (Muriel) Nelson, great niece Connie (David) Nelson), great nephews Scott (Karla) Nelson, and Terry (Janelle); numerous great great nieces and nephews.

Wanda is preceded in death by her parents, John and Mathilda Wachter; husband, Dale Short; son, Paul Short; brother, Peter Wachter, and Gabe (George) Gabeline.

Wanda was born in Temvik, ND on June 19, 1921, and moved to Sturgis in 1923.  As a very young girl, while her mother worked as the town’s telephone operator and cared for her younger brother, Wanda could be seen as a toddler wandering the streets of Sturgis delivering telephone messages (for a nickel apiece) and looking for her Boppa.  At six, she helped her father  “electrify” Sturgis, taking rolls of wire through attics and dropping the end of the wire down a hole in the center of rooms.  She also helped her father install telephones in Sturgis. During high school, she played percussion in the high school band, sang in choirs, worked in cafes, babysat, and worked on military files at Fort Meade in Sturgis. She was also a mascot for the Fort Meade Cavalry, nicknamed Boots because she wore Irish boots.  At 16, she was the youngest person to be certified in first aid in Rapid City. Wanda graduated from Sturgis High School in 1939. Wanda’s adventures continued as she learned to work on motorcycle engines during her courtship with Dale Short, who rode in the first Jackpine Gypsy race in Sturgis.  Wanda became part of the Jackpine Gypsies, raced, and eventually owned her own motorcycles.  She and Dale married in Sturgis on June 21, 1942.  Their son, Paul Arthur Short, was born September 8, 1950 in Flounders, SD.

Wanda entered into active duty, Navy, on May 31, 1943; on January 22, 1944, she completed Aviation Machinist Mate School at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Norman, Oklahoma.   During duty at Moffet Field in California, she overhauled Pratt & Whitney 985 radial engines and also climbed a ladder to hook the nose of blimps returning from the Pacific Ocean, and rode with them into the hangar–three blimps per night.  Wanda was honorably discharged as Aviation Machinist’s Mate Third Class on November 8, 1945.

Her first wedding anniversary was spent apart from her husband because Dale had joined the Air Force and was stationed in England, Belgium, and Germany.  He was a jeep carrier in 1943 with the glider planes.

After the war, she worked various jobs: waitressing, milling trim for the Ellsworth Air Force Base housing area, six months of nursing school, home health aide, and as a kitchen worker at Fort Meade.  At age 49, she survived a stroke.  On December 26, 1990, she lost her husband to pancreatic cancer.  She and Dale had planned to move to the SD State Veterans Home together.

Along with her faith, family and friends, Wanda loved many things: long rides through the Black Hills, pansies, all animals, interesting rocks, Cocoa-the neighborhood cat that adopted her, Jet-her cat and constant companion, talking to people, kitchen gadgets, and tools.  She called herself a gadgeteer.

During her many years, Wanda’s life was full of surprises:  *  while in grade school, gypsies passing through Sturgis were eyeing her on the playground.  Their queen was dying, so they were looking for a new queen. Wanda was kept home from school for a week to hide her from the gypsies.   she didn’t know how to swim, but passed the Navy test that required jumping off a diving board and swimming below the water’s surface for the required distance (in case she ever had to swim below fire burning on top of water).  *  when the circus came to Sturgis, they offered people a chance to try the trapeze.  Wanda decided to try it.  As she was swinging out over the net, the circus trapeze artist tried to catch her ankles, but couldn’t reach them.  He told her that her legs were too short and she’d have to drop to the net.   *  her brother, Peter, was General Eisenhower’s telephone aide during World War II.   While volunteering at the base cinema, she tired of seeing her brother in the military news played before the movie. Once the first reel was finished, she took matters into her own hands, cut out a frame she liked, and spliced the film.  *  Wanda used to dumpster dive. When Gabe was rebuilding her carport, he needed to sort out the stuff in the garage and carport so he could store materials and tools.  He ordered a small dumpster, and started putting in various items.  Wanda’s neighbors later told us that Wanda would come out early each morning, climb on the lowest part of the dumpster, and use her “reacher” to pull stuff out that she wanted to save.  *   Wanda loved rocks so much that her husband asked her to bring home no more than what she could carry herself and in her pockets.  *  a regret she shared several times:  She never rode a unicycle.

Organizations Wanda wanted to support include Meals on Wheels, Humane Society of the Black Hills, SD Veterans Home, VA Medical Center (Fort Meade), VA Medical Center (Hot Springs), Indigent Veterans Fund, Pack 320 (Joshua’s Boy Scouts), and Troop 320 (Travis’ Boy Scouts).

The family of Wanda wishes to extend its most sincere thanks to Fall River Health Services hospital staff, Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home staff, and VA Black Hills Health Care System for their compassionate care of Wanda.  Wanda’s extended family also thanks the many friends who have supported them during this difficult time.


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