Winthrop A. Short, 100 years old, died on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, at Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, N.C. Win was president of the Knapp-King-Size Corp. and a leader among New England footwear manufacturers from the 1960s to 1980s. He was a strong supporter of education at several institutions.
Win was a trustee of Princeton University from 1972 to 1982. He served on the board of directors of Liberty Mutual Insurance, the McCarter Theatre, Hurricane Island Outward Bound, and the Princeton Blairstown Center.
Win attended public schools in Trenton, N.J., before going to Princeton University, which became a lifelong focus of his philanthropic work. He received a bachelor of laws from Yale Law School and a Masters in Taxation from NYU. Following law school, Win practiced law in New York City. He then moved to Knapp Brothers Shoe Manufacturing Corp. in Brockton, Mass., where he served as treasurer, then as president. Under his leadership, Knapp acquired King-Size Corp., also based in Brockton. With others, Win negotiated a leveraged buyout, an innovative financial transaction at the time, to purchase Knapp-King Size in ca. 1972.
A man of great dignity, quiet strength, and a wonderful sense of humor, Win lived independently, practicing a daily exercise routine, until he was 98 years old. In 1945, Win married Janet Gerdes, whom he met while they both attended Yale Law. They shared a love of jazz and musical theater and supported women’s and civil rights. Together they raised four boys in Cohasset. Mass. He nursed Janet with loving care through several years of dementia until her death in 2004. In 2006, he married Marguerite Turner (widow of Eugene L. Turner, III ’41) with whom he shared a life focused on the arts in Birmingham, Ala. Win cared for Marguerite as she battled cancer until her death in 2011.
Win generously supported many worthwhile institutions and organizations, including the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Jackson Laboratory, and the National Humanities Center, among others. Pam Gregory of the Princeton Blairstown Center wrote, “He was a kind, generous, thoughtful, and incredibly accomplished man who made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of young people from low income communities.”
A skilled fundraiser, Win was recognized by Princeton with several development awards over five decades as he set records for capital campaigns and class giving, even as recently as 2016 (75th reunion class). Bill Hardt ’63 of the Princeton Development office wrote, “Win Short, class of 1941, ranks as one of Princeton’s great alumni leaders” and his service was “characterized by his gracious, patient, and low-key manner. People always returned Win’s calls.”
It was the final days of the 1966 Annual Giving Campaign (the 25th Reunion Class) and Win was on the phone with Princeton to see where his class stood. As the leader of 1941’s effort Win was trying to rally his classmates to a new all-time high for any Princeton class - $200,000. He had a lively competition going with the Class of 1926 (the 40th Reunion Class). Annual Giving told Win, “We have two fellows from ’26 sitting here ready to write checks that would beat whatever we (1941) had.” Win called several of his classmates and upped the ante. Ultimately, 1926 edged out 1941, but both classes topped $200,000, and launched the tradition of major reunion classes engaging in friendly competition to support Annual Giving. Win continued as a stalwart Princeton volunteer, serving as chair of Annual Giving, head of the leadership gifts committee during the capital campaign under President William Bowen, and a leader in the 250th Anniversary Campaign for Princeton. Win was presented with the Harold H. Helm Award for exemplary and sustained service to Annual Giving. Win said once, “Princeton has been my principal extracurricular activity. It has been a lot of fun.”
Win loved the Maine coast, where he shared his summer home on the Mt. Desert Island shore of Blue Hill Bay with family and friends. He particularly liked sailing, gardening and reading, but most of all loved to see the joy that loved ones took in the beautiful setting and many outdoor activities. Win loved to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren playing on the shore, boating, hiking, biking and visiting him, often unencumbered by their parents so they would have his undivided attention.He managed his land with a refined aesthetic, enhancing the coastal landscape and minimizing the impact and appearance of human activity. He placed a portion of the land into the care of a conservation easement with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
In addition to Janet and Marguerite, Win was pre-deceased by a son, John Gerdes Short, who died in 1983, and his brother, William H. Short ’46 *52, who died in 1991. He is survived by three sons: Winthrop A. Short Jr. ’68 P97 and Jane Reeb Short (Virginia Beach VA), Andrew Short and Andrea Vizoso (Chapel Hill NC), and David and Esther Yazwinski Short (Montague MA); grandchildren: Leslie Short, Amanda Short Linhart ’97, Sarah Short, Katherine Short, John Short, and Julia Short; great grandchildren: Olivia and Samantha Daly-Short, Mackenzie and Morgan Linhart, and Harriet and Wyatt Winthrop Short; foster great grandchild: Hilina; and godchildren: Stephen White and Kristin Linsley.