Elizabeth Ann Short, 89, died Saturday May 3, 2014, surrounded by her family at the home of her oldest daughter in Oakland, Calif. Born in Lewes, Jan. 8, 1925, she was the eldest of Herman Cannon Short and Elizabeth Bryan Lank.
Ann grew up in Lewes, graduating from Lewes High School in 1942, where among many extra curricular activities, she helped dig out a shooting range in the school basement while a markswoman in the rifle club.
Ann went to art school in Philadelphia, Pa. in the fall of 1942, but returned to Lewes after the first semester and worked as a telephone operator at Fort Miles during the war. In 1946 she went to New York City to attend merchandising school. She gave birth to her first child, Helynna, in New York City in 1949, the daughter of Caleb Woodhull Davis, great-grandson of New York City Mayor Caleb Smith Woodhull. In 1951, Ann married Howard Adams Brooke of Lexington, Va., descendant of noted Delawareans Col. Nehemiah Tilton and Maj. Daniel Jennifer Adams of the Continental Line.
Ann raised her family in Philadelphia and environs. She was active in the Unitarian Church as the director of religious education. She was also very involved in the peace and civil rights movements. Ann found volunteering a way to intellectually, emotionally, philosophically and spiritually make the world a better place. She was an elected treasurer in the Delaware County Democratic Party. She returned to merchandizing as a buyer and ladies department manager for Sears in Radnor, Pa.
Ann came home to Sussex County in 1970 to be near her aging parents. Upon their deaths she travelled the United States widely. She and Howard divorced, but Ann took care to establish him in Sussex County, where he lived happily in Milton until his death in 2005. In 1975 she spent a year of service in Vista in Beaumont, Texas, serving the needs of the community. Ann returned again to Lewes, working as the cook on the University of Delaware RV Cape Henlopen and was aboard ship when the survey was made of the sunken ironclad USS Monitor off the North Carolina coast in April 1977. By coincidence, Howard Brooke's grandfather, John M Brooke, designed the armor, ordnance, and submerged bow and aft of the ironclad CSS Virginian which the USS Monitor dueled with at Hampton Roads, Va. 1862.
Ann moved to San Francisco, Calif. in 1978 after visiting her children who had all moved there. She lived independently in the city until a few months before her death. She loved walking all over the city and spent hours in its many museums. For years she had a plot in a nearby community garden where she grew vegetables.
Ann made annual visits to New York City to see her sons. After retirement she spent six months in Mexico and then travelled the world, living a month in Florence, Italy, visiting Hong Kong/mainland China, Germany, England, Wales and Scotland. Ann believed that life was a call and response. She had an insatiable curiosity about everything. Her sincere interest in people made her well-loved in San Francisco by all ages. She was a lover of the humanities and an avid reader of history, philosophy, science and current events, usually reading four or five nonfiction works and several mysteries a week.
She continued to enjoy art and created many beautiful clay sculptures. When her sight diminished with age she persevered making collages. She was also an enthusiastic astrology hobbyist.
Ann’s brother, James Lank Short of Lewes, preceded her in death. She is dearly remembered by her brother, Robert C. Short and wife Carol of Laurel; sisters-in-laws Carol M. Short of Lewes and Betty Ann Conner of Milton.
One of her greatest wishes was that all of her children and grandchildren would outlive her. Her wish was granted and she is survived by her two sons: John M. Brooke of Queens, N.Y., Theodore S. Brooke and his wife Kimberly Berney-Brooke of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and three daughters: Helynna L Brooke and her husband Mike Fleming of Oakland, Daphne T. Powell of Albany, Calif., Leslie H Brooke of Sonoma, Calif.; and seven grandchildren: Jacob Larkowich, Victoria Larkowich, Caitlin Powell, Brianna McGuire, Kelly McGuire, Nathaniel and Winslow Brooke; two stepgrandchildren, Kai West and Erin Fleming; and one great-grandchild: Asher John Larkowich.