Gail Kathleen McKay Short

Bayfield resident Gail Kathleen McKay Short died of heart failure Sunday, May 27, 2012, at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. She was 75.

Mrs. Short was born to Nevin and Florence McKay on Jan. 12, 1937, in Pittsburgh. She was one of six children. When she was a little girl, her family moved to California.

After graduating from Pasadena High School in 1954, Mrs. Short earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of California at Los Angeles. She went on to work at Scripps Clinic and Research.

While dating Wallace W. Short, she was accepted to become a stewardess for United Airlines and had her acceptance letter sent to his address in San Diego. When he saw she might be traveling all the time as a flight attendant, he quickly proposed. The couple married Dec. 27, 1958, in Pasadena.

Mrs. Short was a full-time wife and mother after their marriage.

The Shorts lived in Goleta, Calif., until they moved to Albuquerque in 1975. Mrs. Short was active at Providence Presbyterian Church in both Albuquerque and Durango.

After seeing a hot-air balloon, she decided she and her husband should learn how to fly one. The Shorts eventually became a two-balloon family, with their son Kevin also earning his license. Mrs. Short volunteered with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest balloon event in the world, serving as the first woman president of the organization in 1984.

In 1994, the Shorts retired to Bayfield, where Mrs. Short was active in Durango Friends of the Arts and the Robert Burns Society.

A founding member of Style ’N’ Stones, a group of jewelry designers that holds an annual jewelry sale for charity, Mrs. Short helped raise more than $30,000 for Durango Friends of the Arts, Manna Soup Kitchen and Hospice of Mercy. The event, which will be held for the eighth time in September, will be dedicated to her memory.

She enjoyed quilting, traveling, gardening, entertaining and “spoiling her grandchildren,” her family said.

Mrs. Short is survived by her husband of 53 years, Wallace W. Short of Bayfield; daughters Gwyneth Kathleen Short of Lakewood and Brenda Short Brouillet of San Anselmo, Calif.; sons Kevin Alan Short of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and Bradley Wallace Short of Goleta; sister, Eleanor McKay Corley, of Pauma Valley, Calif.; brothers Nevin McKay of La Veta, Paul McKay of Allenspark, Richard McKay of Reno, Nev., and Lawrence Bruce “Lanny” McKay of Morro Bay, Calif.; six grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A potluck celebration of life was held Saturday, June 2, 2012, at the Short home. The Rev. Randy Steele from Albuquerque officiated.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Ecumenical Projects of International Cooperation at www.epicprojects.org; or Hospice of Mercy, 1 Mercado St., Suite 270, Durango, CO 81301.