In Memory of




Obituary for Kenneth Cecil Vail

VAIL: Kenneth Cecil. Sadly, but also with a sense of joy, we witnessed Ken move from this life to be with Jesus on Saturday, April 11, 2020. Ken was born at home on the family farm, mid-way between Melita and Waskada, Manitoba, on March 24, 1934 in the early years of the “Dirty Thirties.” His parents, Cecil and Elsie, also both born in the same area, moved several times before settling east of Dauphin, where they farmed and ran a small country store for many years. Dad had the great blessing of becoming enchanted with Hazel Bassett, who was born in Dauphin. They were married in 1957 and were deeply devoted until her death from cancer in 2004. Kids arrived, to Mom and Dad’s delight: David in 1961, Gordon in 1966, Cathy in 1967 and Suzanne in 1971. Decades later, grandchildren arrived to even more delight. In 1995, Ken and Hazel became sole guardians of granddaughter Katie-Sue, who lived with Grampa until his accident in 2016. Dad had dozens of jobs after quitting school, the most unusual perhaps as a cabinetmaker/undertaker (in those days they would build your coffin – and put you in it!). He began working for MTS in 1955, beginning in the switching office, then microwave radio and finally as supervisor of building maintenance. He retired in 1989 but did not slow down for many years, looking after the Anglican Camp at Clear Lake and helping start Habitat for Humanity in Brandon, among other things. The years of poverty and hardships in his youth formed Dad into the consummate DIY-er who was always on the lookout for bits and pieces that could be useful “for somebody”. He built everything from amusement rides for kids, to his own house and had multiple workshops around the acreage, ready in the event you needed something sawn, shaped, planed, soldered or welded. The day of Mom’s funeral, a guy came out to ask Dad to weld a trailer hitch on his car so he could move to Calgary. And so he did. Ken and Hazel grew to have a strong faith in Jesus in their late 30s and it gave them a focus in life they did not have before. They began to have a real heart for people in need, starting with some of the first refugees escaping Vietnam in 1979. To this day we consider Kim (Binh), Dung, Thanh and Mai (Willie) part of our family. Later, there were many immigrants from Africa, including dear friend Aberra and his family. Countless people in Brandon have had a kitchen table and chairs or a bed because they were visited by “Mr. Ken” and his trailer loads of donated and scrounged furniture and housewares. As Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die...” Ken was predeceased by wife Hazel, daughter Suzanne, brother Bob and sister Ella. He is survived by three children: David (Sharon), Gordon and Cathy; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; his younger brother Bill; many in-laws, nieces and nephews and countless friends. Ken was ably cared-for by the wonderful staff at Dinsdale Personal Care Home in Brandon for more than three years. As you might realize, a funeral is not possible at the current time but we hope to have a Celebration of Dad's Life whenever we can meet together safely. Meanwhile, anyone wishing to honour Ken may donate to Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund,, 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 3G2.