PETTISVILLE, Ohio - Mary E. Short-Frey, chief cook and owner of two restaurants whose curly fries, roast beef, and ground-cherry pie sustained Fulton County residents and truckers passing through, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Wednesday in the Fulton County Health Center, Wauseon. She was 78.
She had a blood disorder for 15 years but continued an active life, her daughter, Judy Blosser said. Last weekend, Mrs. Short-Frey, visited the Fulton County Fair to watch the rabbit and goat judging, “because that's what her great-grandchildren were showing at the fair,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Short-Frey's career as a cook began at a restaurant on U.S. 20-A near the German Township farmstead where she and her first husband, Bill, lived.
She took over when the owners retired in the 1960s, and it became Short's 20-A Restaurant, open 24 hours every day but Sunday, a favorite of truck drivers and neighbors.
Curly fries were a house specialty. She and her two daughters peeled and cut the potatoes and, one by one, placed them on a spindle and turned a crank to create “buckets and buckets of curly fries,” daughter Judy recalled. “People came from lots of places for Mom's curly fries.”
Roast beef, chicken and dressing, and meatloaf were popular dishes. She made all the pies - crusts and fillings - from old-fashioned cream to rhubarb, Dutch apple, and ground-cherry.
“The good food she produced, that was a real pride in her life,” her sister, Helen Weldy, said. “The people she served became very good friends.”
Mrs. Short-Frey made a point of arriving early to make her pies and the luncheon specials and returning home in time to feed her family supper. “She was very conscious of her family needing her,” daughter Judy said.
Mrs. Short-Frey sold Short's in 1970 and bought the Country Squire in Archbold, Ohio, where she prepared meals for another decade. Her husband ran the cash register and grandchildren helped serve patrons and clear tables.
Daughter Judy owned the restaurant from 1980 until 1990.
Mrs. Short-Frey grew up on a farm and attended Archbold High School.
She was a member of Central Mennonite Church, Archbold, and was a volunteer at a church-sponsored thrift store that also sold handicrafts from Third World countries. She liked to quilt and she was a volunteer quilter at Sauder Village.
“She had tremendous faith in God and prayed every day,” daughter Judy said. “Her family came ahead of anything else, and she had an extremely intense work ethic. But she never let work get ahead of her great-grandchildren's soccer games.”
She and her first husband, Bill, married Feb. 28, 1941. He died Jan. 7, 1998.
Surviving are her husband, A. Dale Frey, whom she married June 26, 1999; daughters, Judy Blosser and Jan Cobb Nofziger; sisters, Martha Stamm and Helen Weldy; nine grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. today in Zion Mennonite Church, Archbold, which she attended. Arrangements are by the Short Mortuary, Archbold.
The family requests tributes to Gideons International or the Mennonite Central Committee.