Featured Resident – Harry B “Shorty” Carrel Jr
Harry was born on a family farm north of Liberty, MO, to Harry and Louella Carrel. He was the second of three sons. Growing up, they went by their initials so Harry was H.B. Like so many, his parents lost their farm in 1929 due to the Depression.
The family moved to Liberty, MO, where his dad started house painting. The family had a big garden that the boys tended and their mother canned the crops. They would also go gooseberry and grape hunting. So they never went hungry.
Harry talked about playing outside all the time and sitting under the street lights until his mom called them home. His friends and he spent lots of time at William Jewell College’s gymnasium and pool. His family was actively involved in the Baptist Church.
During his freshman year of high school, his dad got a job at the VA in Excelsior Springs and they relocated there. Harry enjoyed playing basketball and football. He quit school after his junior year.
Harry was drafted into the Army and did Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was then sent to Panama during WWII. He was discharged in 1946. But he reenlisted in 1947. He went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, before being stationed in Landshut, Germanyin 1948. He was 1st infantry, 7th field artillery division. He remained there until 1950 when he became part of the 4th infantry formed in Fort Benning, GA.
In 1951, he was sent to Schweinfort, Germany, to help start their NCO Academy. He taught field artillery gunnery, forward observer procedure, map reading, 30 and 50 caliber machine guns and more. While there, he met his future wife, Elsa, at a German-American function. They started dating and were married in June 1955 by the local Burgermeister. The couple had two sons, Harry III and Carl.
Harry also served at Gelenhausen, Germany, before moving to Fort Lewis, Washington. Eighteen months later, Harry was sent to Korea. Elsa and the boys remained in Washington. He was in Korea for fifteen months. (He got to spend thirty days in Japan riding the R & R bus, making sure the servicemen got to the airport and breakfast.
In 1958, he picked up his family and headed to Fort Carson, CO. He spent time teaching at the NCO doing AIT training and as part of the mountain rescue team. In 1960, they went to Augsburg, Germany. 1963 saw them moving to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where Harry was in tactile fire support. In 1965, they were given three days to relocate to Fort Riley, Kansas. The Army packed up their belongings and shipped them to Kansas.
In 1965, Harry rented a home in Excelsior Springs for Elsa and the boys and headed to Vietnam. He was once again in tactical fire support. He said it was a very stressful job. 1966 brought Harry back stateside. He picked up his family on his way to Fort Hood, Texas. In 1968, his family went with him to Gissen, Germany. They didn’t have lodging for him so he spent 21 days in a nice hotel.
While playing basketball with his boys and some friends, Harry suffered a severe heart attack on Dec. 26, 1969. He spent 16 days in ICU, another 5 days in the hospital and then was sent home. He was temporarily discharged on disability in 1970. The family bought a home in Excelsior Springs. He was retested in 1973 and formally discharged from the Army.
Harry went to work for the Parks and Rec department in Excelsior Springs in 1971. He quit in 1981 but was asked to come back. He quit in 1983. Harry served three terms on the City Council, serving part of it as Mayor. In 1988, he had his second heart attack and he retired from the City Council at the end of his term in 1990.
Over the years, the family traveled a lot besides being military. They tent camped under the grape vines in Italy. He and Elsa went 2 or 3 times a year to Las Vegas. She went for the shows and he went to play craps. Harry and Elsa traveled back to Germany three times to visit Elsa’s family. The couple also went to Texas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and many other places.
Harry spent time hunting and fishing in various places including Arizona and Colorado. He’s hunted deer, elk, duck, quail and javelina (wild boar).
Elsa was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Harry did not want her to have to go to a nursing home. He took care of her himself as long as he could. However, Elsa did have to go to a nursing home for her final two and a half years. She passed away in 2009.
Upon his retirement, Harry started playing lots of golf. He has had a membership at the Excelsior Springs Golf Club for over 51 years. After Elsa passed away, he went to the golf club almost daily. He would eat in the restaurant and play cards with the other guys. It was here that he got the nickname. His pals in the Quarterback club dubbed him “Shorty”.
Harry stayed in his home until he decided to give it to Harry III when he moved back here in 2019. Harry went to live at Lillian McDavid’s Independent Living, which was attached to Excelsior Springs Hospital. A year later, they closed their doors and Harry moved into an apartment.
In October of 2021, Harry moved into Westbrook Care Center. He is happy he doesn’t have to worry about cooking anymore. There are lots of things for him to do if he wants to and he can come and go as he pleases. These are some of the reasons he likes living at Westbrook.
When asked for words of wisdom, Harry said, “Get an education”. He says the dumbest thing he ever did was walking away from school. He did get his GED while in the Army in Panama. Over his military career, he took classes that were equivalent to about two years of college. He learned the importance of an education and encourages everyone to get an education.
Harry has his two sons, Carl and Harry III, Harry’s wife, Knok, a granddaughter, Nan Tip and a grandson, John. John is married and has three children.