Cover photo for Henry Thomas "Harry" Vail's Obituary
Henry Thomas "Harry" Vail Profile Photo

Henry Thomas "Harry" Vail

September 17, 1947 — February 18, 2024

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Henry Thomas "Harry" Vail

Henry Thomas “Harry” Vail, beloved husband, father, brother, son, and uncle, passed away after a brave fight against acute pneumonia on February 18, 2024 in Melbourne Beach, Florida. He was surrounded by his loving family in Melbourne Beach, Florida where he had determined to spend his retirement years.


Born on September 17, 1947, Harry was the third of ten children raised by Berenice “Babe” and Vincent Vail, Sr. in Manoa, PA. Harry attended Sacred Heart School, and playing football was one of his favorite pastimes. His on-field accomplishments are still fondly recalled over 60 years later. To his siblings, Harry was a loving and devoted brother (and occasional employer), who made every family gathering merrier, especially as Santa Claus.


At age 17, Harry enlisted in the US Navy and became the third Vail brother to concurrently serve in Vietnam. He was on the Destroyer USS Rupertus in the Asia-Pacific when he ship was involved with the rescue of servicemen on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal, which was engulfed in fire following bomb explosions on its deck. After an Honorable discharge, Harry returned to the United States and, ever the music lover, attended the Woodstock Music Festival. He relocated to south Florida and began a career in carpentry, which progressed into custom home building and commercial construction. One of Harry’s proudest accomplishments as a builder was the conversion of a 1799 Barn in Chester County. This was the first of many building projects in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida that were distinguished by Harry’s commitment to outstanding quality and craftsmanship. Harry is deservingly known in many circles as “Hammering Hank” for his artistry and mastery with building. 


Harry is survived by his wife, Karen Vail (née Roitman) and son Robert, both of Middle River, Maryland, and his daughter from his first marriage, Monica Vail, of Pennsylvania. He was preceded in death by his son, Tommy Vail, parents Vincent and Berenice Vail, and siblings Vince Jr., John, Marie and Joe Vail. Surviving are his siblings Francine Miley, Bernice Lombardo (Bob), Ann Garrison (Rick), James Vail (Rose), Michael Vail, and many cherished nieces and nephews.


A service to honor the life and legacy of Harry Vail will be held at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2024 at The Donohue Funeral Home, 8401 W. Chester Pike, Upper Darby, PA 19082. 610-449-0300. The service will be livestreamed at can be found at:


In lieu of flowers, donations in Harry’s memory may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project -, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) - or Baltimore Station -

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Henry Thomas "Harry" Vail, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

Donohue Funeral Home - Upper Darby

8401 W. Chester Pike, Upper Darby, PA 19082

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