Lew Allen Vail
ONALASKA – Polk County Enterprise writer Lew Allen Vail, 80, of Onalaska died Aug. 5.
Following a 30-year career as a comptroller with Vivarium Baylor College of Medicine and Intersect. Inc. in Houston, he took disability retirement in 1994 and began a public service career in Onalaska, where he served on many boards and civic groups, including Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce, library board, volunteer fire department, school board, the county appraisal district and city government, as both an elected council member and as mayor.
According to Polk County Publishing News Director Valerie Reddell, Vail had been the “man about town for the Polk County Enterprise” since he decided not to seek re-election as mayor of Onalaska in 2012. “Few reporters enjoy covering a meeting as much as Lew did,” she said.
“He resumed a career in community journalism that had been on hiatus when he closed the Pineywoods Echo that he and his wife Barbara operated for several years in the Onalaska area,” Reddell said. She added that Vail put his decades of experience with the city of Onalaska to use by writing stories about his beloved hometown, as well as the city of Corrigan.
“Lew loved attention and the interaction that comes with being a working reporter, but he was steadfastly independent,” Reddell said. “When health issues resulted in the loss of his legs, he used an electric scooter to mingle with other guests at events. He also drove a modified van that displayed his HAM radio call sign, the address of his Facebook page and promoted the Enterprise.”
A native of New York City, Vail graduated from Jefferson High School in 1955 and served in the U.S. Army for three years during the Korean War. After discharge in 1958, he studied pre-law at the NYU College of Business.
Vail was preceded in death by his wife of 39 years, Barbara Vail. He is survived by four children, four grandchildren and other relatives.
A memorial service was held Aug. 14 at the First United Methodist Church in Onalaska. Military honors and interment followed at Magnolia Cemetery.