Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Mary Janet Vail, 91

| June 27, 2024 12:00 AM

Mary Janet Swanson Vail of Polson, on Sunday, June 16, 2024, slipped peacefully into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father at the age of 91.

She was born Dec. 15, 1932, on a snowy day to Frank and Rachel Swanson at Mason County General Hospital in Shelton, Wash. Janet graduated from Irene S. Reed High School in Shelton with many of the same students she had attended school all her life. Life in a small logging town was fun and at 5 years of age she insisted that she wanted to take piano lessons which started her musical career which lasted nearly 80 of her years.

Starting in junior high and high school, and then into college and as a church pianist starting at age 15, Janet played for countless groups and individuals – weddings, memorials, church services and community events. At the conclusion of each memorial, she ended the service by playing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” which was her tribute.

In 1954 she married William Marshall Vail in Shelton, and they made their home in Renton, Wash., where they both worked for the Boeing Company. They added a son, David, in 1960.

Janet went on to teach piano for many years. When the family moved to Enumclaw, Wash., she went to work for the First National Bank of Enumclaw and retired from there.

After retirement, they traveled in their motorhome and in 1994 moved to the beautiful resort town of Polson on Flathead Lake where they made many lasting friendships. Here she continued as church pianist for Polson Community Church.

Janet was an active member of Polson Community Church and distinguished past president of the Polson Kiwanis club and for many years served on the board of the Christian Women’s Club in Polson.

As president of the Polson Kiwanis club and following her husband's sudden death in 2001, Janet established a memorial scholarship in his name to help fund the purchasing of musical instruments for Polson Middle School band students. Each year money is given from the interest of the scholarship and to date more than $10,000 has been given.

In 2017, Janet moved from Polson to Spokane, Wash., to be closer to her son, David, and daughter-in-law Staci. There she enjoyed “big city” life and became a fan of the Gonzaga University basketball teams attending many of the women’s home games. 

In 2023, upon David’s retirement they all moved “home” to Polson where Janet enjoyed living at St. Joseph’s Assisted Living until the time of her passing.

Janet is survived by her son, David, and daughter-in-law Staci of Polson; nephew Ron McLean of Olympia, Wash., niece Kathy (Rex) Thompson of Union, Wash., niece Terry (Dennis) Eckhart of Carmichael, Calif., and niece Judith (Michael) Donovan of Tigard, Ore.; along with many special friends in Washington state and in Polson.

Memorials may be sent to the Vail Memorial Scholarship to further the purchasing of instruments at the Montana Kiwanis Foundation, P.O. Box 1601, Polson, MT. 59860 or to a charity of choice.

A Celebration of Janet’s 91 years will be held in Polson in July.  Memories and condolences may be sent to the family at lakefuneralhomeandcremation.com.

Arrangements are under the care of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.