MIDLAND PARK, N.J. — Midland Park Mayor Harry Shortway, Jr. is way more active than the typical 78-year-old.
You’ll find him running the track at Midland Park High School.
At home, he’ll be on a treadmill.
Though he broke his foot earlier this year, Shortway is training for the New Jersey Senior Olympics in Bridgewater next week.
“I’m not letting my foot stop me,” he said. “I do the 100-yard dash, the 400-yard dash, and I play basketball. I usually get the gold.”
To date, he has 12 medals, four of them gold.
The secret to staying in the game – on the field and in life – is to keep going and stay in shape.
“I always wanted to do things where I was top gun,” he said, smiling.
He attributes his success, and that of others in his family, to his mother, Marge Shortway, who was a Hawthorne councilwoman and bartender at the family business, Shortway’s Barn on Goffle Road, which opened in 1933 .
She worked till the day she died 10 years ago.
“My mother inspired all of us to do things,” said Shortway, who certainly has complied.
In 1955, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was a machine gunner – and played ball.
As a police officer in Ridgewood for 42 years, retiring as a detective sergeant, he made 3,000 arrests.
A former freeholder, Shortway is now in his ninth year as a county undersheriff.
Plus, he and his siblings own and run Shortway’s Barn.
Ever the sportsman, Shortway still loves racing his 1985 Monte Carlo at the Orange County Fair Speedway and playing softball with the Hawthorne Fire Department Softball Team.
“I’m on my way to 900 wins playing softball,” he said, matter-of-factly.
He loves some flash, too. He has 36 dressy suits in his closet, he told Daily Voice, and loves driving his 1985 Monte Carlo race car at the Orange County Fair Speedway. He’s won 18 ribbons.
Yes, keeping fit is essential to driving, too.
“You have to climb in that window, shift, make your feet go,” he explained.
Another of his passions is riding horses at his farm in Smyrna, New York.
Shortway’s passion for police work, the military, and playing ball run through his family line – from his grandfather, Tunis Shortway, who pitched baseball against such luminaries as Honus Wagner and Jim Thorpe, to his granddaughter, who is a U.S. Marine sergeant.
Shortway, who has 10 siblings, has eight children by two wives.
His children range in age from 12 to 59. The eldest, Harry John Shortway, is mayor of Vernon in Sussex County.
He also has 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
“I have a happy life and I’m not giving up,” he said. “I tell all my kids: we Shortways don’t give up.”