‘Rae of sunshine’ will brighten Dover bakery

Anita Wheeler-Bezy, right, will pay tribute to her friend Rae Short with a sculpture at La Baguette in Dover. Mrs. Short was known for her positive nature and volunteerism with several local organizations, including the American Heart Association.

DOVER — The sun will come out tomorrow.

That’s not so much a weather forecast, as it is the truth about a special tribute to a Dover businesswoman’s friend — and, really, a friend of so many people in this community.

A bright yellow metal sculpture of the sun will be placed on the patio of La Baguette, a Dover bakery and catering service, in honor of Rae Short.

“I called her my ‘Rae of Sunshine,” said Anita Wheeler-Bezy, president and co-owner of La Baguette.

The two women were longtime friends and became especially close when Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy was involved with the Chefs Fight for Your Heart, a big fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

Mrs. Short, on her own time and energy, also provided support to Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy in the creation of a patio at the bakery at 323 S. Governors Ave. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the patio at 9 a.m. Monday.

The American Heart Association was one of several organizations that Mrs. Short supported. So many people have talked about her role as a friend, volunteer and “connector” since she died on Aug. 28 after being stuck by a car as she was about to walk across a Dover street.

“When she passed away, I thought, ‘I need something on my patio that represents Rae,’” said Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy.

Brian Bachman, of Graydie Welding in Camden, who helped build the patio, created the metal sculpture.

Its wavy rays of sunshine will greet guests.

“The reaction has been very heartwarming,” said Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy. “On Facebook, I got a lot of comments about how beautiful a sentiment it is. She was so fondly thought about in our community.”

Mrs. Short, who worked for Home Instead Senior Care, served the American Heart Association, Meals on Wheels, Alzheimer’s Association, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.

Karen Gritton, development director for the American Heart Association in Southern Delaware, said there will be a new Rae Ann Short Volunteer Excellence Award. The first will be handed out at the annual Southern Delaware Go Red for Women Luncheon.

Donations, in Mrs. Short’s memory, can also be made to the American Heart Association, Southern Division.

“Rae was a firm believer that people are the point to everything we do,” Mrs. Gritton said. “She was a constant reminder that there was always someone out there with a need or a talent who could benefit by being included. Although we are still searching for answers; wondering why this tragedy happened, I think Rae would have wanted us to learn from it and make life better for others as a result. Because she was laser-focused on the many wonderful volunteers who helped us each day it is only fitting that the American Heart Association establish a recognition for those who follow in her footsteps.”

About 400 people attended a celebration of Mrs. Short’s life at the home of Tonda and Joe Parks in Dover.

Years ago, Mrs. Short remarked that the Parks’ backyard looked a bit like Longwood Gardens. “More like Shortwood,” Mrs. Parks remarked.

It stuck. “I love that because of her name,” said Mrs. Parks.

Mrs. Parks and Mrs. Short also had a long friendship that grew with the American Heart Association involvement. When Mrs. Parks was executive director of the Kent County division of the association when Go Red for Women was created. Mrs. Short was a volunteer on the original committee.

She said Mrs. Short was one of those people that would be the first to arrive to help and the last to leave. “Lots of people talked about her being ‘silently there,’” said Mrs. Parks of Mrs. Short’s ability to help but stay in the background.

She and Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy both mentioned Mrs. Short’s tremendous ability to put people in touch with one another.

“I’d never met anyone like Rae in my life,” said Mrs. Wheeler-Bezy. “She touched so many lives and she knew so many people. She was actually like a connector between certain organizations and other people. She would say you need to meet so-and-so do such-and-such. She would connect you with the perfect person. She had a knack for that.”

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