R. Perry Shorts was born in Morris (Manitoba, Canada) on December 30, 1879, the son of Robert and Eliza Jane (Armstrong) Shorts. He had two brothers, Bruce C. (died 1945) and W. Warren, and a sister, Mrs. Hannah Mary Shorts Vowles (1869-1963), for whom Mount Pleasant’s Vowles Elementary School is named. In 1907, the family moved to Saginaw, Michigan.
In 1900, R. Perry graduated from the Central Michigan Normal School, later Central Michigan University (CMU), with a teacher’s certificate. After graduation, he worked as the principal at Laingsburg High School for a few years. Shorts then attend the University of Michigan’s (U. of M.) Law Department, graduating in 1906. He was immediately admitted to the bar in Saginaw County.
Shortly afterwards, Shorts began his long, successful business career. He became the General Attorney and Vice President of the U.S. Health and Insurance Company. In 1914, the company merged with Mass. Bonding and Insurance Company. Shorts served as the First Vice President and Chairman of the Board of the new company. From 1915 to 1916, he served as its President. In 1920, he left the company to serve as Vice President of the F. W. and F. Carlisle Company in Saginaw. In 1921, Shorts left the Carlisle Company to serve as Director of the Second National Bank of Saginaw. In 1922, Shorts was named as the Bank’s Vice President and Trust Officer. He also served as President of the Bank (1929-1957) and was named Honorary Chairman of the Board in 1958.
Shorts served as President of the International Health and Accident Insurance Company, Saginaw Board of Commerce, and the Rotary Club. Also, he served as Director or Executive Officer of many businesses, including: Michigan Bell Telephone Company; Michigan Sugar Company; National Bank of Detroit, which he helped organize; and the Saginaw Community Chest. He also served as a Regent of the U. of M. (1930-1937).
Among the awards Shorts received were the Horatio Alger Award (1963); U. of M’s Regents Citation (1958) and Regent Emeritus status (1937?); Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Silver Beaver Award (1954); and the Arnold Boutell Award (1962), for distinguished community service.
In 1959, Shorts donated Camp Rotary to the Valley Trails Council of the BSA. In 1963, he donated $25,000 to CMU to establish the R. Perry Shorts Student Aid Fund, in honor of his siblings. (This fund was merged with other financial aid sources at CMU in 1975.) In appreciation and recognition of one CMU’s most successful graduates and supporters, CMU’s new football stadium was christened as Perry Shorts Stadium on November 4, 1972. (In June 1983, the stadium was renamed Kelly/Shorts Stadium to honor Kenneth (Bill) Kelly, CMU Football Coach, 1951-1966.)
Shorts was a member of the Saginaw Board of Commerce, serving as President, 1924-1925; Phi Kappa Psi; Rotary International; the Shriners; the Detroit Club; and the Saginaw Country Club. He was also a 32nd Degree Mason.
On November 12, 1907, Shorts married Helen Hubbard Houseman. Together, they had two children: Robert L. (died by 1936) and Susan.
Shorts wrote and published extensively on insurance, business, and other issues. His insurance digest, compiled circa 1914, was used for years by the insurance industry. Widely requested as a public speaker, Shorts spoke mainly about business issues. Many of his speeches were also published.
R. Perry Shorts died in Saginaw on August 12, 1975. (This information is from the collection, especially his Biographical Materials.)