Brian L. Vail

November 19, 1951 ‒ March 03, 2015

Marengo, Ohio
Formerly of Mount Gilead, Ohio

An inspiration to all, Brian L. Vail’s earthly chains were lifted on Tuesday afternoon, March 3, 2015, at Riverside Methodist Hospital with his loving family by his side following a courageous 19 year battle with ALS. He was 63 years old.

On November 19, 1951, Brian was born in Galion, Ohio, the youngest of three sons of the Mary Jane (Williams) Vail and the late Alan Vail. He was raised in Mount Gilead, where he graduated from Mount Gilead High School in the class of 1970.

Furthering his education, Brian studied at Columbus Technical Institute and later graduated from Otterbein College in 1974.

Shortly following graduation from college, Brian married his high school sweetheart, Darlene Dixon, on July 27, 1974. Together they raised their two children, Cherry and Benjamin, and they have always been the apples of his eye.

After working as a realtor for 11 years, Brian officially started Vail Realty in 1987. Despite his physical limitations, he never stopped working in real estate, and was honored when both Darlene and his son, Benjamin, carried on their family brokerage firm. He worked as a realtor for over 39 years, and was still helping Ben find good deals until just a few months ago. He also started two businesses in Mount Gilead, assisting Darlene with their “Just Looking” Women’s Clothing Boutique in Mount Gilead for 8 years, and starting BJ’s Drive Thru on South Main St.

Brian had been a member of the First Presbyterian Church, where he served as a trustee and deacon. He also was proud to start and coordinate a children’s choir there at the church. He was a member of the Morrow County, State of Ohio, and National Boards of Realtors. He was a past president of the Morrow County Chamber of Commerce, the Mount Gilead Jaycees, and had been a soccer and little league coach. In 2007, Brian was honored to receive the Dr. Nathan Tucker Award of Excellence for his service to the Morrow County community.

Having a lifelong passion for music, Brian enjoyed playing in several local bands while growing up. He played the keyboard, and was often the lead singer. Music was something that could never be taken away from Brian, and he cherished the playlists his daughter made for him.

Brian had a great sense of humor, and always loved to tell a good joke. He had a fun loving personality, and you could always see the mischievous and orneriness in his eyes.

With a love for traveling, Brian often took trips that centered around some type of adventure, with snorkeling and skiing being two of his favorites. Brian and Darlene especially had a fondness for Cancun.

Brian made the most of every situation…he always persevered. One of the best words to describe Brian was that he was determined. Through each step of his life he was determined to excel, from school to realty, to being a father, to giving back to his community, to seeing his daughter walk down the aisle, to beating ALS. He never conceded to anything, especially ALS.

Left to cherish his memory are his children: Cherry (Jonathan) Gomez-Rivera of San Antonio, Texas, and Benjamin (fiancé Christina Long) Vail of Columbus; his mother, Mary Jane Vail of Delaware; former wife, Darlene (Gary Eckert) Vail of Lexington; two brothers: James Vail of Centerville, and Richard Vail of Delaware; and several nieces and nephews.

Including his father, Brian was preceded in death by an infant sister, Jennifer Vail.

His family will greet friends from 4 – 7 p.m. on Friday, at the Snyder Funeral Home, Craven Chapel, 67 N. Main St., Mount Gilead. Services celebrating his life will also be held there at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, with Rev. Deborah Bowsher serving as master of ceremonies. Burial will follow in Rivercliff Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Brian L. Vail Memorial Fund, the use will be for either a Morrow County community cause or for an ALS family in need. They may be sent to the care of the funeral home.

His family would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all of the caring staff at Bennington Glen Assisted Living Center, who tended to his every need and who became a second family for him.

Snyder Funeral Homes of Mount Gilead are honored to have been chosen to serve Brian’s family and your condolences may be expressed to them by visiting

  • Sorry to hear about Brian, May God bless all of you in this time of sorrow.

  • It was an honor to know Brian Vail. He had a great spirit and showed many talents in his final days. He was very intelligent. He accomplished a lot in difficult circumstances. He inspired many with his life.

    We are thankful for the wonderful family that supported him throughout his life and during his final years. His mother and children were very good to him.

    May God’s peace and love be with this family.

    Chaplain Dave Matos

  • Cherry, Ben and Family: So sad to hear that your Father passed away today. He was an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to know him. He is with God now walking and talking and most of all at peace. God be with you during this difficult time.

  • Our sincere condolences to your family. Many prayers to bring you peace and comfort during this time.

  • Our deepest sympathy to your family. Love and prayers
    Randy and Shelly Whited Kemmer and Family

  • Brian became a very special friend for the past decade. I remember how he made a special effort to attend my father’s visitation. I was so very touched. Don and I recall many sporting events where we visited with each other, watching you kids play. But most importantly, he shared with me how excited he was about the upcoming events in your lives. Know that his spirit will be with you as you celebrate these important milestones. Hugs and love to all of you.

    Don and Julie

  • May care and love of those around you provide comfort and peace to get you through the days ahead. Our most sincere condolences.

    Love and prayers,
    Lynn and Lisa Shinaberry and family

  • To Brian’s family
    I wish for you Blessings of courage & strength to get through the next few days. May the gifts of Peace of mind and heart, Comfort, Happiness, Hope & Love guide you as you go forward.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Brian when I was employed at Bennington Glenn from 2000-2004. I often think of the residents I worked with. Brian is one.

    Love & Light,
    Rebecca Diver

  • Dear Family,
    We are saddened to hear of Brian’s passing. He fought a long hard battle. We will hole all of you in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. May God lay His healing hand upon you to help ease the pain of your loss.

    Blessings of peace to you,
    Steve and LuAnn

  • We are saddened to learn of your loss. We recall with fondness Brian’s determined resolve and beautiful nature. You were always there and your loving care was special to witness. Our thoughts are with you and pray your memories sustain you.
    In sympathy
    Cherry and Gary

  • So sorry for your loss of your dad, I first met him at 4-h camp when he ask me to dance. Remember all the good times. God bless.

  • I just want you to know how sorry I am. Brian was a picture of strength. Sometimes the measure of a man is not how tall they stand but the measure is how they face trial with strength. We would all do well to remember Brian’s courage in the face of some very difficult circumstances. Prayers for your family.

  • I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Brian. He is a great inspiration for us all. I am sure all the things he could no longer do here on earth he is doing now. It is hard to lose a parent but remember they are with you always no matter what. It will take a while but remember the good times.

  • Darlene & Family, So sorry for your loss. Brian is in no more pain and walking the streets of Heaven. Prayers for you and your family.

  • I worked with Brian one year in Real Estate at Harper’s. So sorry about the family’s loss. Love and Prayers.

  • My sincere condolences to Brian’s family. He was deeply loved by so many and was such an inspiration to us all. You were so faithful. May God bless you with his peace. Sally

  • I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Brian was a wonderful man.
    He will be missed! I also know that he is looking down at us smiling right now. Can’t wait to see him again. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  • Sorry for your loss. I cut Brian’s hair when I worked at Bennington. He was a great guy and even as rough as things were he always tried to be up beat. He is in a better place now.

  • Your family has our deepest sympathy at this time. I have fond memories of Brian.I will always remember his smile.He couldn’t always talk to us but he communicated to us with his beautiful eyes.He will be missed.Iam sure he is happy now in heaven.God Bless You All.

  • What a strong, determined man Brian was!
    He was also very kind in his thoughts he shared through email.
    I’m thinking of his family and close friends with caring thoughts and deepest condolences.

    Christine Long

  • To the family of Brian , he fought a battle with ALS with so much pride, hope someday there will be a cure, prayers for the family

  • Brian Vail’s courage as he lived with the progressive disease of ALS is an inspiration to all who knew him to live a life filled with gratitude rather than disappointment. When Brian first told me about his diagnosis he was almost enthusiastic in explaining that he had the lower motor neuron version of ALS which meant that progression would be slower and he would have more time with his loved ones.
    When he began to have difficulty feeding himself he was grateful that he had friends and family to help. When he began to use a wheelchair and van to get around he was grateful that he could still talk and breathe. When he lost the ability to breathe on his own he was greatful that he could still communicate with his loved ones. When he needed to move to a nursing home for continuous care he was greatful that he could continue to participate in his real estate business and advise his children as they matured into beautiful adults.
    As he lost the ability to move or communicate in any other way I asked him if he was ready for his final journey. He struggled to raise his eyebrow (yes) and a single tear of gratitude for the life he enjoyed rolled down his cheek.
    We should all celebrate and remember a life well lived by our courageous friend Brian.

  • My condolences to all the family. I worked with Brian at Ron Harper Reality. I remember his ready smile and easy going manner. He has been in my prayers . So sorry for your loss.

  • Scott and I are so sorry to hear about Brian’s passing. We spent many years working together at my Dad’s office. He loved working with the public and always had a kind word & smile for everyone. He fought such a courageous battle.

    Our condolences to the family.

  • Prayers and sympathy for Brian’s family. I have many fond memories of times spent with Brian and Darlene years ago. Brian was a fighter and inspiration to all.

  • Dear Vail Family, Please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers. I am blessed to have worked for (with) him for a little while and got to know him. A true “gentle”man he was. He spoke of you, Cherry and Ben, with such love. May you continue to feel his love and him watching from above.
    Sharon McCleary

  • I have many fond memories of Brian as a classmate and friend that always had a smile for all. His laughter was filled with kind words and will be missed by the Class of 1970. His fight to never give up was an inspiration to all. My heart goes out to his family. God bless.

  • Darlene & family
    So sorry to hear about Brian. Being an ornery classmate of ’70 we had some fun and sobering times.
    He is now playing his own music and watching over you and yours.
    God Bless you all,
    Allyson Wheeler

  • So sorry to hear of Brian’s . I was so lucky to have enjoyed his youthful playfulness and the many ornery things he liked to do. We jokesters hang together.
    Brian is the pinnacle of toughness when fighting a disease like ALS. I often told people who were newly diagnosed Brian’s story giving them hope for God’s miracle.
    Please accept my sincere condolences and know he will always be in the lives of many Morrow county citizens as one of the “Good Guys”. He will be missed.
    Ed and Susan Bump

  • Sincere sympathies to Brian’s family. My husband worked with your dad at Harper Realty and then they started B.J.’s (Brian and Joe) together. We have a lot of good memories of those days. I’m sure God is now rewarding him for the courageous battle he went through. May the presence of family and friends help you get through the days ahead. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Joe & Shirley Porter

  • We wish to extend to all of you our deepest sympathy on the passing of Brian.
    What an inspiration and example to us all he was.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  • What a remarkable man! Brian has our greatest admiration and we know he lives on in his beautiful children. What a blessing to have known Brian and to have been even a smallest part of his life. His strength lives on in all who knew him and gives us courage to face each day ahead. Our condolences to all those who loved him.

  • I will always remember Brian during our times at Otterbein college. He made me laugh during times of turmoil and that smile was there all the time. We went different directions after college but I will always remember Brian’s true grit through his illness and he is a inspiration to face each day with a smile.
    My prayers are with the family.

  • Our hearts are with Ben, Cherry, Darlene, and the entire family. Brian made a great impression on me after my visit with him. When he heard from me of our love for his son (then my daughter’s boyfriend) and how happy we were that Ben was part of our family, tears filled his eyes. Hearing all of his accomplishments mentioned above, he certainly fits my definition of a great parent and a true hero.
    Hugs to you all from California.

  • Brian was such a wonderful brother- in- law. I’ll never forget the Christmas, living at Northgate Park, when he took me shopping to a tree farm for a live Christmas tree. He knew how I really loved Christmas and having a tree. His kindness and strength will always be remembered.

  • So sorry for your families loss of Brian…

    Walk in heaven Brian with open arms
    A smile as large we all can see
    For God has made you whole again
    No more wishing there will be
    We watch you do these from our thoughts
    Running, jumping, clapping, laughing
    because now you are so very free
    until we meet up again I ask of you one thing
    Run until the sun sets every night
    Laugh with all your loved ones passed
    Jump with joy your with God
    Clap your hands because he made you whole again
    know that we back here miss you
    We know the struggles you endured
    You showed us true courage
    now show heaven what God has gained..
    a true angel…

    rest in peace Brian
    You were always so nice to me I will never forget you…tammy

  • Dear Jim and family –
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    With deepest sympathy,
    Bill and Sharon Flickinger

  • We offer our deepest sympathy to Brian’s family during this difficult time. As I watched the video it was obvious that Brian lived his life with the same zest for life that I remembered.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you,

    John and Lori Welling

  • Our deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the Vail Family (Darlene, Cherry, Ben and Mary Jane). Brian was a remarkable person and will be missed greatly. Ben was a big part of our family growing and we enjoyed our times with his family. God Bless you all. Our hearts go out to you.

    The VanDorn family( Paul, Vickie, Joseph and Matthew)

  • Ben & Cherry,
    Sorry to hear about your Dad. His life was an inspiration to all who knew him. Thinking of you in your time of mourning.
    Jake and Jesse Haughn

  • Thinking of you during this difficult time. We are so sorry to hear of your loss. What an inspiration Brian was to so many. With deepest Sympathy to all of your family. Bruce & Cheryl

  • As one of his doctors I was honored to have provided some of Brian’s medical care over the last 15 years. The thoughts of many expressed in the guest book reflect my own. His long battle is a testament to the wonders of life and family and the tenacity with which we cling to them despite great challenges. He always seemed grateful for whatever I could do to help him. I will miss him.

    Dr David Bailey

  • To Brian’s family:

    My sisters and I remember Brian as we grew up at Northgate.
    It was a joy to see and to speak with Brian’s family at Visitation last night.

    MaryJane, one of your “claims to fame” will always be that you raised Brian to be a man who persevered through the trials of his life without complaint but instead with determination (and with a smile to boot! 🙂

    Dick and Jim, you were the brothers that Brian needed and enjoyed throughout his life. Brothers are special friends!

    Darlene, your love for and admiration of your high school sweetheart shows in your beautiful smile when you speak of Brian. You are the picture of grace!

    Cherry and Ben, it is obvious that you both grew up with a loving, devoted father.
    Having met you only very briefly, I was struck by how you were raised with MORE, NOT LESS, in spite of your father’s long-term illness. You exude more love, more understanding, more unselfishness, and more compassion than many young adults today. These attributes will serve you well in life. (“Thanks, Dad!”)

    MaryJane, Dick and Jim, Darlene, Cherry and Ben, always remember:

  • I am so sorry for Brian’s family. I hope they know the number of friends praying for them all for many years out number what they heard. The entire family was an inspiration for grabbing evey bit of happiness they could in spite of Brian’s medical problems. There are so many that do understand the feeling of loss in your hearts. Brian should be honored for teaching people how to overcome severe tragedy.

  • Please accept my deepest condolences and sympathy during this time of such personal loss. Brian was such a special person to so many people who loved and adored him. He overcame so many obstacles and was a great source of light and inspiration. Your family is in my prayers….

  • Although I only knew Brian and Darlene in high school, there are many happy memories of the “perfect couple”. Much laughter and love and practical jokes! I am so sorry for your loss. From the video and the posts, Brian truly blessed all he came in contact with. God Bless Brian as He blessed us with the privilege of knowing him, even if it was for a very short time. With deep sympathy.

  • I am so sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of getting to know Brian while working at Bennington Glen. He was such a sweet man with such a kind heart.

  • My prayers and condolences go out to Ben and Cherry and their familes.
    Brian was always there in school and after, always had time to led an ear and a helpful thought. He will be sadly missed by all.
    When we e-mailed. he had that humor and wit still with him, will always remember that smile.
    Gods Blessing to this family
    I know he is looking down now smiling and talking to those that have gone before us, Grace be to God
    James T. Harmon (Jimbo)

  • I just found out today that the world lost this beautiful man. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t take more time to go out and visit him. I shall miss him so much, and cherish his emails over the past few years. He was such an amazing man.

  • Anyone who knows Ben and Cherry would realize their parents have been spectacular. They are. Bill Taylor spoke often of Brian and his admirable qualities. Brian’s influence for good will continue through those he has touched. Three generations of our family took the ice bucket challenge with him in mind, and you.
    I just heard today of your loss or would have come to the memorial. We’re out of state.
    Sending love,
    Jill Grubb