Joyce and Philip Short of Arlington seemed the perfect couple.
She was a $28,000-a-year home economist for the Department of Agriculture, a guest on radio and TV talk shows who discussed nutrition and help up her private life as an example of "proper and decent living" for others to follow.
For at least part of the 19 years the Shorts lived together, Philip Short was a district sales manager for a chemical company. In 1976, the couple even bought a $58,000 yacht in Florida, with plans to sail it north through the Intercoastal Waterway.
"We were very happy," Joyce Short said.
The happiness ended on a spring day two years ago when Joyce Short said she was told in a letter from her husband "he had left her for good and was not coming back" and that he wanted a divorce. But the troubles didn't end there.
In court papers accompanying a $200,000 civil suit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Joyce Short said he was "shocked and sickened" a few days later to learn she apparently was never legally married.
She had wed Philip Short, she contended in the suit, without knowing he had not yet divorced his first wife.
Since those revelations, Joyce Short said, she has endured "humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish and physical suffering" as a result of the alleged "fraud and deceit" of her husband.
In legal papers filed in response to her charges, Philip Short, now retired and living in Houston, said he lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the charges "and accordingly denies them."
Short also denied that he "deceitfully and fraudulently induced" her to marry and that he misrepresented his divorce from a former wife in Wisconsin. Joyce Short's losses, he contended, "directly and proximately resulted from her own actions and omissions."
In a companion suit, Joyce Short sought an accounting of their individual contributions to their Arlington home, joint bank accounts of nearly 20 years, stocks, cars and the boat, called the Star Rider.
The Shorts exchanged wedding vows in the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church in Washington on April 7, 1957 after a four-month courtship, according to court papers. They lived together happily until near the end of March 1976, when Philip Short left for Florida to purchase the Star Rider and bring it back home, Joyce Short's suit says.
They were to meet in Fort Lauderdale when the boat was ready and enjoy a leisurely said northward through the Intercoastal Waterway to Washington, the suit said.
Joyce Short said she waited anxiously for his call, but instead re- [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]