Capt. Doris R. Vail, USN, Ret. - Passed away on October 11, 2023

In loving memory of
Capt. Doris R. Vail, USN, Ret.
  • Passed away on October 11, 2023

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Doris Ruth Vail, 87, of The Villages, Florida, died peacefully at home with her partner at her side on October 11, 2023.   She moved to The Villages in 2016 with her lifetime partner, Helen M. Hardbower.  Doris was born in Loveland, Colorado to the late Donald Vail and Dorothy Carey.  Doris is preceded in death by her siblings, Donna Helwig and Dexter Vail.  She is survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends whom she dearly loved.

She was active in the Tri-County Women’s Veterans, and a member of The Rainbow Family and Friends.  She had an adventurous spirit, loved people and life and enjoyed traveling, golfing, bowling and dancing.  Her laugh and smile were as big as her heart.

Doris, in her 26 years of Naval service, retired as Captain, and was known for her success in pioneering women’s opportunities in the Navy. She was presented with an award demonstrating superior performance in all phases of her duties, displaying unparalleled, comprehensive knowledge of Navy Manpower, Personnel and Training.  The positive impact she had in this arena was of incalculable value to the Navy and will be felt for many years.  She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in special education from University of Denver.   She received her doctoral degree from George Washington University.  Among her other awards and decorations are Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Navy Legion of Merit award and Medal for outstanding achievements.  In later years, she published a book detailing her achievements as the first female Navy Trailblazer.

She will be interred in Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave., Bushnell, FL. , on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, at 11:00 a.m.

Arrangements are in the care of Baldwin Brothers Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Spanish Springs, Florida. Condolences, memories and photos made be shared on the obituary page of the Baldwin Funeral Home web-site  

In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made in Doris’s memory to  VITAS Hospice, 6909 Old Hwy 441, Suite 105, Mount Dora, FL, 32757.




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  1. Linda Friedman lit a candle:
    07 Nov 2023
    Lit since November 7, 2023 at 11:12:18 AM

  2. Dawnlee Vail posted an image:
    06 Nov 2023
    Happy Dorie
    Happy Dorie

  3. Laura &Steve Warner says:
    02 Nov 2023
    Helen, I know that you will miss your partner in life. Doris was a very caring, thoughtful, loving, and honorable person. Doris was proud of her service in the Navy and her doctorate degree.
    She was always there to help our aging parents which I will always remember her timeless, caring, and patience. She loved her friends and family. She wanted for years to go back to the Ranch which she had many joyful memories growing up. But her health made it near impossible to see the Ranch one last time.
    Dorie went forward at Calvary Chapel Church in Melbourne, Fl, to confess her Faith in Jesus Christ. I know that she is now in a much better place with her beautiful smile. Our family will miss her!

  4. Janet Hohenberger says:
    01 Nov 2023
    I am deeply sorry for your loss of Dori. She is at peace with our Lord and Savior. I was fortunate to have bowled with Dori and enjoyed her spunk and great bowling. Peace be with you, Helen and may you feel God's comforting arms surrounding you during this difficult time.
    Janet H

  5. Kai Bornhoft lit a candle:
    01 Nov 2023
    Lit since November 1, 2023 at 11:27:00 PM

  6. Robin Calleon says:
    01 Nov 2023
    Doris was a wonderful spirit who left a great impression on many of our lives. I am honored that I had the chance to meet her and work in her home with her and Helen. May all your wonderful memories together give you warmth and comfort. She led a very interesting and fulfilling life. She will be greatly missed and warmly remembered.
    Hugs to you,

  7. Bunny Maher says:
    01 Nov 2023
    Helen - so sorry to hear of Doris passing. Cheryl and I hope you find comfort and peace in your fond memories of your time together. Hugs to you, Bunny Maher and Cheryl Tarlecky.

  8. Gayle Gedrich lit a candle:
    01 Nov 2023
    Lit since November 1, 2023 at 11:47:29 AM

  9. Betsy Nolan and Sue Roper says:
    26 Oct 2023
    Helen, There are no words for the legacy that Doris has left on the TCWV family.
    She touched so many lives in the very best way and we are grateful we got the chance to know her. Her shining personality will live on in our hearts forever. May the special memories you made together help you navigate this difficult time.
    Wishing you hope and healing,
    Sue Roper and Betsy Nolan

  10. CAPT Trish Miller, USN (Ret) says:
    24 Oct 2023
    Deepest condolences on the passing of your life partner. CAPT Vail was an outstanding role model for those of us in the Manpower, Personnel and Training field. Prayers for you, her extended family and large group for friends she leaves behind in The Villages. May the memories that you hold in your heart of the times you both shared help to ease your pain during the difficult days ahead.

  11. Anne Murphy lit a candle:
    22 Oct 2023
    Lit since October 22, 2023 at 10:20:08 PM

  12. Jan Adams says:
    21 Oct 2023
    We first met Doris golfing with the annual International Women Veterans Golf Association (IWVGA), "The Ducks," in 1996 or so. She and Helen were always welcoming, enthusiastic and Navy-proud. We looked forward to our time together every year, celebrating our service and appreciating those of other services. Doris defined comraderie, and she will be greatly missed. Deepest condolences to Helen, and Doris' extended family.

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