Carolyn Short was born on June 28, 1931, to Benjamin Thomas Ashley & Janet Gaines Goff Ashley, in Amity, Arkansas.
While attending Amity High, Carolyn was a varsity basketball player, along with her childhood friend, Virginia Faulkner, better known as Jennie, who later became the mother of actor Billy Bob Thornton.
On January 14, 1947, Carolyn married Jim Floyd Short, better known as Jeff, in Glenwood, Arkansas, where Jeff's father, Alvie, was the City Marshal.
Carolyn & Jeff moved to Boonville in July of 1950, at a time when there were 27 lumber mills in the greater Anderson Valley area. Jeff initially drove logging trucks for his friends Chillie Bates, Johnny Ray Harding, and Buzz Nash. While Carolyn worked at Zittleman's Market, Elliott's Market and Philo Lumber Company, before the couple went into business for themselves. In December of 1962, they purchased the Union 76 gas station in downtown Boonville and later bought the adjoining bulk plant, where they drove large fuel trucks to deliver fuel and oil products to valley residents.
Throughout the years, the couple had many famous celebrities stop in at their station, including Robert Redford (who happened to visit on her birthday - Carolyn laughed with Redford when she told him she thought he was her birthday present), chef Julia Child, Nancy Walker from the TV series "Rhoda", Patty Andrews of the famous singing group, The Andrew Sisters, actor Burgess Meredith (who was starring in the film "Magic", being filmed in nearby Lake county), basketball legend Bill Walton (when he got out of his car and stood up, Carolyn, not recognizing him, said "I bet you played a lot of basketball when you were younger"), actor & singer Kris Kristofferson & his then wife, singer Rita Coolidge (her father, Dick Coolidge was a minister nearby), and singer Bonnie Raitt, who stopped by frequently on her way to her home on the Mendocino coast. Carolyn also befriended author Alice Walker, who was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction when she wrote the novel "The Color Purple" and lives in Anderson Valley. One of Carolyn's favorites was Cammie King, who portrayed Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Clark Gable & Vivian Leigh, in the film "Gone With The Wind". They became good friends - Cammie often invited Carolyn to her home in Fort Bragg and asked Carolyn to accompany her when Cammie attended various film retrospects and events honoring the film.
Carolyn excelled at crocheting, was self-taught, and her designs were winners of Best in Show on several occasions during the Mendocino County Fair in Boonville and at the Redwood Empire Fair in Ukiah.
After their only son, Jimmy, was born in 1956, Carolyn became involved in his school activities. She was a room mother (including when Reverend Jim Jones was Jimmy's 6th grade teacher at the Anderson Valley Elementary School in 1967) and a den mother when Jimmy was part of the cub scouts. She and Jeff were members of the Anderson Valley Lion's Club for many years, as well as the Chamber of Commerce & VFW. Carolyn also worked as a volunteer for the Anderson Valley Little Red Schoolhouse museum, was very involved with the Anderson Valley Senior Citizens, and worked as the Senior Supervisor of the Mendocino County Election Board in Boonville for more than 40 years.
Carolyn also learned a small amount of "Boontling", the unique language to Boonville, so she could share it with the tourists who stopped in their station with questions. In her front window was a sign created for her with the words "Welcome Brightlighters!.” This is Boontling for welcome to those who live in the cities with "bright lights.”
Carolyn was a big music fan, and over the years, was able to see many of her idols in person, including Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, BB King, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard. A highlight for Carolyn was sitting in the front row for "An Evening With Frank Sinatra" at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. She & Jeff enjoyed traveling, including two trips to Hawaii, and frequent weekend getaways to Lake Tahoe. They also enjoyed trips to Springfield, Oregon, to gather with Jeff's siblings at family reunions.
In December of 1991, Carolyn was in Hawaii and at Pearl Harbor to mark the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was also present when President George H.W. Bush spoke to the hundreds of invited guests at the ceremony. After Jeff passed, she continued to travel, including a cruise from San Francisco to the Mexican Riviera with her friend, Irene Lange, the former Treasurer-Tax Collector for Mendocino County. They looked so much alike, and they were often mistaken for each other.
Carolyn was exceptionally proud of the friendship Jimmy developed with actress & entertainer Ann-Margret. He began following her career in 1964, and over the years, it developed into a treasured friendship, including the exchange of Christmas cards and birthday gifts to Jimmy. Carolyn often traveled with Jimmy, and later with his husband Markcurtis, to see Ann-Margret perform live in concert from San Francisco, Reno, and Lake Tahoe to the front rows of the major hotels in Las Vegas, as her invited guests. In 1985, she and Jimmy were invited guests to a luncheon, held in Ann-Margret's honor, in the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, along with Bo Derek, Peter Falk and Oscar winning composer & conductor, as well as her good friend, Marvin Hamlisch. Ann-Margret and her late husband, actor & producer Roger Smith, were exceptionally kind to the family over the years. When Jeff passed in 1992, Ann-Margret herself called to offer her condolences and sympathy to the family.
Carolyn leaves her son Jimmy & his husband, Markcurtis Otani, of Sacramento, brother-in-law Darrell Short, sister-in-law Wanda Short, and sister-in-law Arbelle Short, all of Springfield, Oregon, and sister-in-law Geraldine Ashley of Glenwood, Arkansas, as well as cherished nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Jeff, in 1992, her parents, Ben & Janet, and her siblings... Rosemary Huneycutt, Albert Ashley, Billy Ashley & Royce Ashley. Pallbearers will be Clay Bates, Gary Bates, David Knight, Val Martin, Craig Titus, and Dean Titus.
Carolyn loved flowers, especially her azaleas and rhododendrons, and would spend hours tending to her plants and her garden. However, if you're so inclined, donations may be made in her name to the Anderson Valley Historical Museum (Little Red Schoolhouse) at:
Anderson Valley Historical Society
PO Box 676
Or via correspondence to:
Jimmy Short / Markcurtis Otani
1929 Dawnelle Way
Sacramento, CA 95835
Carolyn's funeral service will be held on Friday, August 25 at 11 AM at Eversole Mortuary in Ukiah. Burial will be at the Evergreen Cemetery in Boonville, with a community potluck reception to follow at the Anderson Valley Senior Citizens Center in Boonville.
Arrangements are being handled by Eversole Mortuary, 141 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482