Vail K. Miller, age 77, passed away on Friday, January 19, 2024, in his favorite place, the Napa Valley, California, after a beautiful date with his favorite girl, Carol, his wife of 55 years. He relished his retirement, spending time between St Helena/Calistoga, California and Oregonia, Ohio with his family and among his many friends in and around the wine industry after his storied 55+ year career with Heidelberg Distributing Company, a wholesale beverage distributor serving Ohio and Kentucky.
Vail was born to Howard and Mary Miller in Dayton, Ohio on February 7, 1946. Vail and Carol (Vontz) started dating their sophomore year at Oakwood High School. Vail went on to earn a business degree from Hillsdale College in 1968. Vail and Carol married in May of 1969 and he took on a full-time position with Heidelberg. Vail also joined the U.S. Marines and served six years as a reservist. Vail's positions within Heidelberg varied but ultimately culminated in his prodigious tenure as Co-Chairman. Over his 55+ year career, Vail was largely recognized as instrumental to Heidelberg's incredible growth and best-in-class reputation among suppliers and customers in the beverage industry. In addition to being a remarkable and loving father to Vail Jr., Brooke, and Michael, who were afforded the amazing opportunity to work with and for him in various capacities throughout his career, he was also a beloved mentor who provided incredible opportunities for professional growth and development to so many men and women working in the beverage industry. He was the recipient of countless industry accolades and awards, and served on the boards of numerous industry and charitable organizations both locally and nationally.
Vail had a love for the game of golf where he honed his skill and nurtured many lifelong friendships at The Moraine Country Club in Dayton, Ohio (where he served on the Board of Governors for 9 years), Muirfield Village Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio, Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, California and Quail Ridge Golf Club in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Vail was predeceased by his father, Howard, his mother, Mary, and his sister, Pam (Kivlighan). Vail is survived by his wife, Carol, his sons, Vail (wife Leslie) and Michael (wife Marissa), and daughter, Brooke (husband Sean Hice); and his six grandchildren, Grayson, Annie, Rocco, Mason, Wyatt, and Austin. He also is survived by his brother-in-law Bill Kivlighan, and Bill's daughters, Katherine Kivlighan Taylor (husband John) and Virginia Kivlighan.
Vail will be greatly missed by his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and his many friends. His humor, his steadfast loyalty, and his stalwart spirit are simply irreplaceable. If he believed in you, he made you believe you could do anything. He was able to express pride and gratitude in a way that simply inspired others to always want to do more. He showered his love tirelessly and completely, including to all his former pet dogs, and his surviving cat, Meow, with the same unwavering devotion. Put simply, Vail has fostered a legacy of achievement, generosity, and love for all who knew him.
Private services will be held for the family, followed by a celebration of life memorial event for friends at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either of the following organizations that Vail felt strongly about supporting: The Humane Society of Greater Dayton, 1661 Nicholas Road, Dayton, OH 45417-6714 -or- Native American Veterans Assistance (NAVA), P.O. Box 3800, Rapid City, SD 57709-9824.