Theresa “Terry” Vail, 81, a longtime resident of Guilford, died peacefully on April 12, with her family at her side. She was born Theresa Marie Deme on July 18, 1940, in New Haven to the late Joseph and Elizabeth (Salemme) Deme. Her mother immigrated from Italy as a young girl and her father was born in New York.
She attended St. John’s Commercial High School in New Haven, a two-year secretarial school, and entered the workforce at age 16. Her first job was at St. Raphael’s Hospital as a secretary. She held various secretarial jobs within city agencies and as a legal secretary through the years. A stint as front desk manager at The Gables at Guilford in the early 1990s was a particularly happy time. She was always a hard worker and smart and had high energy.
She met her husband, Malcolm “Dave” Vail, on Oct. 20, 1961, at Malone’s Restaurant in New Haven. He was 22 and she was 21. They were the love of each other’s life. At the time they met, she was working as a secretary to New Haven Mayor Richard C. Lee. They married in New Haven July 30, 1966, and lived in Branford. While Theresa’s jobs over the years were in the secretarial field, it was her family that gave her the most satisfaction. She came from a large, close-knit family and continued to stay close to so many through the years. She had many cousins, and an annual “Cousin’s Party” became a cherished event that she helped initiate. She helped start family vacations with her husband and kids, first to New Brunswick, Canada, then to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and for many years to Cape Cod every summer. The Cape became so popular that some family members have continued the tradition. She simply enjoyed being around family, not to mention a cocktail back at the cottage and games at night.
She was always there for any family member, regardless of anything else. She was a loving daughter, niece, aunt, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Right up to her passing, she would smile immensely and beam with pride whenever she was visited by her precious great-granddaughter, Delilah.
She was preceded in death by her brother Salvatore “Skippy” Deme, nephew Michael Deme, and niece Patricia Deme. Survivors include her husband; sons Mark (Kristina) Vail and David A. Vail of Guilford; daughter Debra (Matthew) Sefick of Bay Shore, Long Island, New York; five grandchildren, Emma, Timothy, and Samantha Vail of Guilford and Charlotte and Colby Sefick of Long Island, New York; one great-grandchild, Delilah Vail of Guilford; and brother Jack Deme and sister-in-law Marie Deme, both of Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Friends are invited to a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, at the Guilford Funeral Home, 115 Church Street, Guilford. It will be followed by interment at Alder Brook Cemetery, 375 Boston Street, Guilford, followed by a reception at VFW Post #7666, 104 Mill Road, Guilford.
The family would like to thank The Guilford House and Connecticut Hospice for their kindness and care of Theresa and her family.
In lieu of flowers, donations and memorials may be made to Connecticut Hospice at 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Avenue, Floor 17 Chicago, IL 60601. To share a memory or leave condolences, visit www.guilfordfuneralhome.com.