Veteran, local businessman remembered for good works

Posted: Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Shorty Oliver may have passed on last week, but the memories of his generosity are alive and well in Juneau.

``I think what people will remember most about Shorty is his tireless volunteerism. He unselfishly worked to make people feel better about themselves - all the time,'' said U.S. Coast Guard retiree Frank Love.

Eight days before his 71st birthday, Everett P. ``Shorty'' Oliver died in his home in Sequim, Wash., last Saturday, from asbestos-related cancer. Information about memorial services should be announced within a few days.

Prior to moving to Sequim several years ago, Oliver and his wife, Evelyn, owned and operated Oliver's Trophies and Gifts. Oliver, who retired from a long career in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1977, lived in Juneau for more than two decades.

During that time, he played a pivotal role in local veterans' groups. The Coast Guard retiree and Vietnam veteran was a life member and past commander of the American Legion Auke Bay Post 25 and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. He was also state commander of the American Legion.

``He was a true patriot, an all-round good person and a good friend,'' said Bill Adair, owner of Bullwinkle's Pizza Parlor.

Oliver, father of three children, was also an active participant in the Glacier Valley Rotary Club and the Juneau Elks Lodge 420.

He was a staunch supporter of the Pillars of American Freedom lecture series and helped launch the lecture program for the Rotary Club in 1992. Capt. Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, was one of the first speakers of that series, said Adair.

``While he (Cernan) was up here, Shorty took him out fishing and managed to get him a 42-pound king,'' Adair said, with a laugh.

Although Oliver was not a smoker, he died of lung cancer that was asbestos-related. During Oliver's early years in the Coast Guard, almost five decades ago, it was not uncommon for the inner linings of ships and pipes covered with asbestos to be exposed, said Love.

``People would brush the asbestos dust off their racks (beds) before getting into it. Using asbestos was not unusual at that time,'' said Love ``No one knew that it might create problems down the road.''

Veteran groups in Washington helped the Olivers over the past few years. Most recently, several groups combined efforts to build a ramp onto the Olivers' home so Evelyn could help Shorty in and out of the house.

For Tim Armstrong, a close friend of the Olivers, memories of Shorty include his sense of humor and kind words.

``I never heard him say anything bad about anyone and I never saw him angry,'' said Armstrong. ``He was a pretty darn special guy.''

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