VAIL, Nathan Russell “Russ”
VAIL, Nathan Russell “Russ” (1921-2005) [SS# 555-09-3429], Los Angeles-born twin brother of Alexander Lennox (Al) Vail, grandson of Walter L. Vail, and son of Nathan Russell “N. R.” Vail. After college at Stanford University, Russ was graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York in 1943. He served in the Merchant Marines and spent time in Africa, the South Pacific and South America. In 1948 he married Jean Betts, and they had three children:
- Nathaniel Russell III “Nate” Vail (b. 1949)
- Timothy Betts Vail (b.1951)
- Diana Vail [Rainy] (b.1955)
From 1948-1956 Russ worked on the Pauba Ranch before moving to Vail & Vickers office in Los Angeles as the company’s bookkeeper. The company moved its office to Santa Barbara in 1965, and Russ arrived at that office in 1976, where he worked until shortly before is death.
In the News~
2005: “Nathan Russell Vail, Jr. died Thursday March 31, 2005 at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena California, at the age of 83. Mr. Vail was a cattle rancher and partner in the Vail Company and Vail & Vickers Company, two ranching enterprises which played a major role in the settlement of Los Angeles and Riverside Counties, as well as in southeastern Arizona. He was born November 24, 1921 in Los Angeles and grew up in Beverly Hills, where he attended Beverly Hills High School. As a young man he worked summers on the cattle boat Vaquero which shipped cattle to and from the family ranch on Santa Rosa Island in the northern Channel Islands 30 miles off Santa Barbara. The Vaquero was requisitioned in World War II and eventually replaced by the Vaquero II, which still survives and was the last commercial wooden vessel of the Pacific lumber schooner type built on the Pacific Coast. He attended Stanford University and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. During WWII, he joined the Merchant Marine and attended King's Point Academy in Great Neck NY, graduating first in his class in 1943. He served as an officer on several merchant vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres, and the sea remained his first love throughout his life. At the conclusion of WWII, Mr. Vail returned to Southern California to work in the family ranching enterprises, and married Jean Betts of Spokane WA in 1948. He worked on the Pauba and Santa Rosa ranches near Temecula, then transferred to Los Angeles in 1956 to work in the Vail Land & Cattle Company office, at first downtown, and then on Wilshire Blvd. The Riverside County ranches were sold in 1963 to form the present Rancho California; at that point Russ returned briefly to the sea serving as second mate on the Magnolia State to Da Nang, Vietnam. He subsequently returned to work with Vail & Vickers Co. in Santa Barbara. With his siblings Alexander Vail and Margaret Vail Woolley, he managed the cattle ranch on Santa Rosa Island and started a deer and elk-hunting operation; he was a regular for lunch at Joe's Cafe on State St. Santa Rosa Island was acquired by the Department of the Interior in 1986 as part of the projected Channel Islands National Park. The three Vails and their children continued to work closely with the Park Service in preserving the heritage of the 'Ranches in the Sea' and founded the Santa Rosa Island Chapter of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation. Mr. Vail was a member of the Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena, First Century Families of Los Angeles, and the Society of Los Alamos. He is survived by his wife, Jean; his sister Margaret Woolley; his children, the Rev. Nathan Vail of New York City, Dr. Timothy Vail of La Quinta California, and Diana Vail of Brooklyn New York; and his grandchildren Vail and Max Rainey. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of the Nathan R. Vail Jr. Family Trust to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for the benefit of Museum research projects on Santa Rosa Island. Receptions will be held in Pasadena on Friday April 8, and in Santa Barbara on Thursday, April 14.”