Ruby Madeline Rice Short

December 31, 1925November 22, 2019

**Due to sceduling issues Ruby’s memorial will not be on December 28th. The date is still pending. Check back on this page in the coming days for updates.**

Ruby Short, a true force of nature, passed away peacefully in her sleep, on Friday morning, November 22, 2019. She was a month shy of her 94th birthday. She had suffered from dementia for several years, but the end came quickly, of natural causes.

Ruby was known as a beloved friend, a good neighbor, the life of any party, and for her interminable string of groan-worthy (and sometimes risqué) jokes. She could light up a room and make any guest feel comfortable. She had often surprising opinions on a wide variety of subjects. She could do the Charleston in a fringe dress. She once had her picture on a billboard in Times Square. She could embarrass a Prague taxi driver because she knew all the Czech swear-words, even though she didn’t actually speak the language. She and her husband Bob traveled the world and could feel at home almost anywhere. True to her Depression roots, she saved string, tinfoil, garbage bags and plastic food containers. She always insisted they might come in handy some day. She recycled before anybody knew the word. She was the center of the family and the center of her wide circle of friends.

Ruby Madeline Rice was born on December 31, 1925 in Alexandria, Louisiana to Victoria Fabianek and Asa Earl Rice. Her mother was a Czech immigrant who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island when she was 2 years old in 1906. Her father, who came from Cajun roots, died of tuberculosis in 1931, when Ruby was 5. With the Depression in full swing, Ruby and her mother Victoria moved cross-country to join the Fabianek family, who had re-located to the burgeoning Czech community of Malin, Oregon near Klamath Falls.

They settled first with Ruby’s grandparents on their homestead near Tule Lake, California. This was difficult for the small child, as the grandparents spoke only Czech (her grandfather lived in the U.S. for 64 years without ever speaking English). Mother and daughter moved across the border to Malin when Victoria found work at the local drug store. Victoria married K.C. Wilson in 1937 and they moved to a farm in Shasta View, north of Malin. It was the first time in her life Ruby had indoor plumbing.

Ruby graduated from Malin High School in 1943 and attended Oregon State College for two years, while corresponding with her schoolmate Bob Short, who was serving in the Navy in the Pacific Theatre. They married in August 1, 1946 in Klamath Falls, and settled in Eugene, where Bob earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1950. Their 3 children were born in 1947, 1948, and 1951.

The family moved to Portland in 1955 when Bob accepted a job with Portland General Electric, where he worked for 33 years until his retirement in 1988. He was named CEO and Chairman of the Board in 1980.

After her children moved away to college and beyond, Ruby re-invented herself as an active community member. She became a fixture at Portland Golf Club, where she played golf and bridge weekly for more than 40 years, serving a term as Ladies’ Club President. She was also active in the Assistance League, the Town Club and the Portland Garden Club. She was a gifted and creative gardener, who transformed her home into a truly masterful landscape. She also did stitchery and tole painting. In her later years she volunteered for the S.M.A.R.T. program and read books to children. She volunteered for many years at St. Vincent hospital, only stopping when the dementia made it impossible. She knew how to keep busy without overdoing it.

Ruby is survived by her daughter Victoria of Portland, Connecticut, sons Bob (Brenda) and Casey (Margaret Bax), both of Portland, Oregon, granddaughters Katie Baum Mettenbrink, Laura Baum Dancey, Andee and Emily Short, and 3 great-grandchildren. Robert H. Short, her husband of 56 years, passed away in 2001. Her infant sister, Bobbie Nell, born in 1929, survived only 17 days.

She had the misfortune of outliving nearly all her friends, though she made new ones along the way. Sadly, her last years were darkened by dementia and macular degeneration, but she lived a full life, and lived it fully. She will be missed.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Ruby Madeline Rice Short

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