I can’t believe it’s been 1 year already since my dad has passed away. He was a wonderful man and a great role model. I wrote a little something last year to be read at his funeral, I’m going to share it with you now. Rest in peace Dad, we miss you and will always love very much. Francis James Vail July 25, 1921 to February 24, 2010.
Many of you knew him as “Mr. Vail“, most of you knew him as “Jim“, some called him “Uncle Jim“, a select few were allowed to call him “Francis“. With Father Richard reading this I can’t say what he was called at the Fish and Game club on Thursday nights, Cheryl called him “Popsy”, our children know him as “Grampy“, but to us he was just…”Dad”.
It has been trying experience over the past ten days since Dad’s stroke, but the support we have received from our friends and family and this whole community in general has been very comforting and very humbling. My dad loved Stafford and by looks of it Stafford was pretty fond of him too. He was born on July 25,1921 on Patton Rd to the late James Michael Vail and Flora (Rabideau) Vail. He graduated from Stafford High School in 1938 at the age of 16 . He served his country proud in the army air corps during WWII. On October 26, 1946 he married the love of his life Edie Hatt. During their 63 year marriage they had 6 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren. They endured the loss of a great grandson, Brian John Murdock, and 2 children, Keith 2000 and Heidi in 2002. I think we all have some solace in knowing that they were waiting to welcome him on his journey.
Our dad had a lasting effect on everyone he met because he was kind, sincere, generous, and had a teenager’s zest for life. But what we as his family appreciate, is how much of an effect everyone here had on his life. He was always treated with such respect, whether it was at his job as building inspector in Tolland or playing pitch on Mondays at the Italian Club, or his frequent trips to Mill Pond to have coffee with the boys, Thursday nights with his buddies up at the Fish and Game club playing poker, or all the people at a high school basketball game going out of their way to make sure they said a few words to my dad. He had great friends like the Champaigns who included him in everything, like trips to Maine and to the horse track. Having a field at the Kealy little league complex named after him for his contributions in getting little league started in Stafford, is something that he and our whole family is very proud of. All of you made his life special and we, as a family, are very thankful for that. Dad cherished being a part of the Stafford community.
If you were around Jim enough then you know he liked to tell some interesting stories, some of which I’m all sure we heard more than once. My nephew Les likes to call him the “Most interesting man in the world”, not always because of the story he was telling but because he talked so soft you had to lean in to hear every word he that said. Well Dad, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying… I would give anything to hear one last story.
Our family was blessed to have this very special man as part of our everyday life. He had a unique relationship with each of his grandchildren. Visiting their homes, watching them play sports, watching their children play sports, babysitting, always willing to lend a helping hand. To all of you; he loved you so much and was extremely proud of each and everyone of you. And I’m sure I can speak for my brothers in saying, we couldn’t have asked for more caring and generous parents. With our parents we never had to be told we were loved, because they made us feel loved everyday through thick and thin. Our dad gave us sound advice as needed but it’s the example he set everyday of his life that makes him our role model. Dad your shadow is one I will humbly but proudly walk in the rest of my life.
This is a difficult time for a lot of us but none more difficult than for my mother. They say, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” but what they should say is, ”Beside every great man is a great woman.” Mom you are admired and revered by this community and most importantly by your family more than words can say. Only with you by his side was Dad able to be the man he was.
In this difficult time lets remember that Jim Vail lived a long, prosperous, and happy life surrounded by friends and family that loved and admired him and a community that embraced him with open arms. Again we as a family want to thank everyone here today for touching Dad’s life in a special way.