Allan Jay Short, an Ohio-born Mennonite farmer who became a highly esteemed lobbyist for Michigan’s teachers, died on Monday, Nov. 19, after a courageous, year-long battle with cancer.
Short’s passing will be felt equally in the halls of the state legislature, where he fought hard for strong public schools, and in his home community of Spring Arbor, Mich., as a member of the Township’s Planning Commission and chair of its Variance Board.
Born on Sept. 18, 1938, in Williams County, Ohio, to Virgil and Irma Short, Allan left the family farm after high school to attend Taylor University in Upland, Ind.
In 1961, he embarked on a 10- year teaching career, serving in the Reading Community Schools and the Vandercook Lake Public Schools. His public service also included a two-year tour of duty in the Peace Corps in Ceylon.
In 1971, he joined the Michigan Education Association as a negotiator of teachers’ contracts. He later became a legislative consultant with the MEA Public Affairs Division, and in 1986 was appointed MEA’s Director of Government Affairs, a post he held until the time of his death.
Short was widely recognized as an expert in taxation, crafting and passing fairer school funding proposals and the most generous public school employee’s retirement program in the nation.
Short’s vital public work was balanced by a rich private life. He married Patricia Gallagher Steenhuysen, a widow, on August 30, 1974, and instantly took on the role of father to her three children: Byron Jay Steenhuysen, Julie Dee Steenhuysen and James Joel Steenhuysen.
He is survived also by seven grandchildren, Megan, Macy, Claire, Kevin, Jacob, Hannah and Sarah; three brothers, Joe, Tim (Jane), Ned and a sister, Mary Ann Yoder (Lowell); his step-mother Mary Short and two step-sisters, Elaine Rupp (Ron) and Carol Beck; aunts, Zelma Kauffman, Grace Eicher, Geneva (Luther) Shetler, Duane (Betty) Stamm, and Harold Stamm.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 11 am at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church. Visitation will precede the service at the church beginning at 10 am. Visitation will also be on Friday from 2 pm until 5 pm and 7 pm until 9 pm at Watson’s Funeral Home at 2590 Spring Arbor Road, Jackson, Mich.
Donations in memory of Allan may be sent to the Michigan Political Leadership Program, a training program which he helped found for persons of intelligence and integrity from both political parties who are willing to become candidates for public office: Michigan Political Leadership Program, Michigan State University, 321 Berkey Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1111; or to Hospice of Jackson, One Jackson Square, Suite 400, Jackson, MI 49201.
J.L. Watson Funeral Chapel was in charge of the arrangements.