Everyone at Cowsmo would like to send our deepest condolence’s to the family and friends of Ray.
Raymond George Vail, 94, a lifelong area resident and dairy farmer, died on September 22, 2021 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.
Born February 20, 1927 in the farm house where he was raised, Ray was the son of John and Claire (Kinsey) Vail. He attended the one-room school house where his sister Kathryn taught grades one to nine before graduating from Pawling High School.
Ray was devoted to his family and friends and was first and foremost a dairy farmer. He loved watching the sun rise over his fields during morning milking and believed passionately in the beauty of a fine dairy cow. In a New York Times article in 1992 Ray spoke of the economic hardships of dairy farming in Dutchess County, and when asked what else he might do, he replied, “Vegetables don’t really turn me on.”
Ray’s love for purebred Holsteins and exhibiting at the Dutchess County Fair began with his purchase of the farm’s first purebred calf as a 4-H project when he was twelve, a tradition lasting for 81 years. Ken-Ray Farm Holsteins, and later Jerseys, were exhibited at state, regional, national, and international shows and the trophies, ribbons, and banners could fill a room. Ray will be remembered by his many dairy friends as a leader, advocate, nurturer, fierce competitor, and most fondly as the man who kept the ENY show string and crew in top form at the NY State Fair.
Ray had unwavering dedication to 4-H and was a 4-H leader for 75 years. His leadership extended to many other agricultural organizations including the DHIA, Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County, Eastern New York Holstein Club, and President of the New York Holstein Association. In 1957, he was honored as New York State’s Outstanding Young Farmer. Ray was known for his generosity and kindness to the many children who spent their summer days at the farm. Ray and his wife Eleanor enjoyed traveling around the country visiting farms and winter trips to Florida in their camper. He celebrated the accomplishments of others, remembered birthdays, and knew the dogs on his paper route by name and made sure he had a biscuit ready.
Ray is survived by his beloved wife, Eleanor (Winans) Vail and his children Lorraine (Ed Smith), Jim (Laura), Brenda (Mike Moretti), John, Steve (Bonnie Bargstedt), Trish Nelson (Barry), son-in-law Victor Holmes, many nephews and nieces and their families, and dear friends, Pete Deforest & family, Jim McCarthy & family, and many more. Ray is also survived by his grandchildren Tricia Mary Liguori (Bill), Kevin, LeeAnn Cuomo (Dan), Steven (Melissa), Dylan, Jaclyn, Jason Holmes, James Holmes (Joanne), Jeremy Holmes, Erin Holmes (Colin Freeman), Tiffany Hollister, Rae Marie, Kyle Nelson (Leah Dellaventura); Alex Nelson (Kristen); great-grandchildren, Hailey Vail, Sage Cuomo, Rachel Liguori (James Madaffari), Richard and Ryan Liguori, Kinley, Liam, Kiera, Robert Hollister, Austin Hollister, Keith Hollister, Jacob Hollister, Isabella Page, Brayden and Bryce Nelson; great-great grandchildren Oliver Madafarri, Ian Hollister, Armani Hollister.
He is predeceased by his parents, brother Kenneth and sister Kathryn, his former wife and mother of his children Marie, many friends, and his devoted dog, Casey.
Calling hours will be at McHoul Funeral Home, 895 North Route 82, Hopewell Junction on October 7, 3-7pm and streamed on www.mchoulfuneralhome.com. A celebration of his life will be held on October 8 from 12-4pm at the Dutchess County Fair Livestock Pavilion. A church service and burial will be at Trinity United Methodist Church, La Grangeville on a date to be announced. Memorial donations may be made to Eastern New York Holstein Club, 28 Poplar Avenue, Pine Plains, NY 12567 and memories shared on Ray’s page.