A master carpenter and furniture maker, William Clifford Vail of Indian Hill Road in East Hampton died Friday at Stony Brook University Medical Center. He was 59. According to his longtime partner, Bobbi Lee Sayler, the cause of death was leukemia, which resulted from lengthy chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Hodgkin’s disease.
Mr. Vail was enthusiastic about his work and “was so proud that he brought pictures home to show everyone,” Ms. Sayler said. He worked for Reich/ Ekland Construction of Shelter Island for about 20 years. On the job and at home, Mr. Vail was known as a man who liked to talk. “He was a conversationalist,” Ms. Sayler said.
He was also a great reader, especially interested in American history, and always had a dog “or three,” usually mutts rescued from a pound, Ms. Sayler said. He treated them as if they were his children, she said. He found time, too, to go clamming and picking mussels in the bay. He valued his sobriety, Ms. Sayler said, having abstained “for 26 years through the grace of God and Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Mr. Vail was born on March 29, 1952, at Southampton Hospital to William C. Vail and the former Dolores Darnell. The Vail family has long ties to East Hampton, though he grew up in Southampton Town and went to Westhampton Beach High School.
After graduating from high school with a Regents scholarship in 1971, he went to the State University at Delhi, from which he obtained a degree in agriculture. After college, he lived briefly in Colorado before returning to Long Island in 1978.
He is survived by his sisters, Elizabeth H. Gallaer of Medford and Mary A Paparella of Princeton, N.J., as well as his stepfather, Edward H. Conklin, formerly of East Hampton, who now lives in Maine, a niece, two nephews, and a great-nephew. His parents died before him.
A memorial for Mr. Vail has been set for April 16 at 10 a.m. at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Patchogue and at 11 a.m. on May 7 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett, with lunch to follow. Mr. Vail was cremated, and his ashes are to be spread at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Ms. Sayler suggested that donations could be made in Mr. Vail’s honor to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Box 4072, Pittsfield, Mass. 01202, or to the American Heart Association, Box 417005, Boston, Mass. 02241-7005.