For generations of dedicated service, Northwest Nazarene University is proud to bestow the Family Heritage Award to the Vail Family at an honorary ceremony on November 4. The Vail legacy makes the family the ideal recipient of the Family Heritage Award, established by the alumni board of directors to honor alumni families who, throughout generations, have brought honor and distinction to the University and who have advanced the cause of Christ through their lives and service.
Arthur and Elnora Vail first learned about Northwest Nazarene College while living in Brewster, Kan. An acquaintance who had moved away to attend the college wrote letters describing the campus and the Christ-centered classes. The Vails began to receive The Messenger and to consider moving. But, as Elnora put it, “Idaho seemed so far away—like a foreign country.” However, Arthur went to visit and was shown around by NNC’s founder, Eugene Emerson. After his return, it was decided that “if the way opened,” the whole family would move to Nampa.
On September 18, 1929, the Vails left behind Brewster and headed to Idaho. At that time they had nine children: Oren, Marion, Harley, Zola, Charles, Velma, Elmore, Virgil and Lois. Lois was born just three months before the move. Emerson helped the family settle in at the end of their journey. After finding temporary lodging, the Vail family’s first permanent home was on the corner of 12th Avenue and Lake Lowell Road where Nampa High School now stands. They also found a permanent church home, as they became charter members of College Church of the Nazarene, located in the basement of the NNC Administration Building. They were very involved in the building of the present-day College Church and remained lifelong members.
The older boys applied to the junior high shortly after the Vails arrived. This was the beginning of a long-standing and rich NNU family heritage. Between grade school, junior high and college, as many as seven Vail children attended NNC at the same time. In the 82 years since the Vails made the long journey west, members of this family have collectively logged more than 150 years of service to the University. NNU’s records list 48 alumni who are related to the Vails.
Members of Arthur and Elnora’s family have filled and are currently filling many roles at NNU, including student leaders and several faculty and staff positions. Two of this family’s greatest and lasting legacies are the Elmore W. Vail Baseball Field and two Vail family endowed scholarships.
The Vail family will receive the Family Heritage Award in a special chapel service on November 4 during Homecoming & Family Weekend 2011 with a reception to follow. There will also be brief recognition of the family during halftime of the men’s basketball game Saturday evening, November 5.