A few weeks ago, J. R. Gonzales wrote a thought-provoking article about the death of Carl Hampton on his “Bayou City History” blog. It brought forth many memories and many comments and got us to thinking about Herman Short, who was Chief of Police at the time.
Chief Short was surely a product of his generation. He was described as a “broad-shouldered, brusque, perpetually frowning man” by Tom Curtis of Texas Monthly. He was conservative and apparently prejudiced. His strong-arm police tactics became legendary and caused considerable uproar in the late 1960s.
Surely there’s another side to this complex man, and we wanted to find it. Surely he had a family and personal life. Surely he was a husband, father, son, uncle or brother. Here’s what we found:
He was born in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1918, the first and only son of a blacksmith and welder who moved to Houston to work for Hughes Tool Company sometime during the Roaring Twenties. Young Herman had two sisters and lived in the Mykawa Road/Garden Villas area, according to the 1930 census.
During World War II, Herman Short served in the Coast Guard. He began his career on the Houston police force shortly after the war, and got married in 1949 here in Harris County. He and his family were living on Almeda-Genoa Road when he became Chief in 1964.
In 1970, during all the civil rights turmoil, Herman Short’s wife passed away. Seven years later he remarried, this time in Fort Bend County. During the decade he spent as Police Chief, no charges were ever brought against Mr. Short and he was often applauded for his “tough law and order stance”.
Short died of a heart attack in December 1989, at the age of 71, and is buried in South Park Cemetery near Pearland. His obituary stated that he was survived by his wife, one son, two step-daughters and five grandchildren. We hope these few facts, gathered from public records, will shed some new light on the life of Herman B. Short.