Cover photo for Armand Vial's Obituary
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Armand "Gene" Vial

Armand Vial

d. July 3, 2024

Armand "Gene" Vial, 90, of Grants Pass passed away July 3, 2024 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Armand Valjean Vial was born on December 30, 1933, in Los Angeles, California. His parents were Armand John Vial, the son of French immigrants, and Frances Shepherd Brooks, the daughter of an English-born miner for a father, and a Midwestern-born mother. He was named after his father, and his mother picked the name Valjean for his middle name from the book Les Misérables, as she liked that story. He attended school in the Los Angeles area and graduated from Lynwood High School in 1952.

Gene, as he was known by family, wasn’t the best student in school, but he was an excellent athlete. He starred in football as an all-conference halfback, and also ran track. He was one of the fastest sprinters in the Los Angeles area in high school in the early 1950’s, running the 100 yard dash in 9.7 seconds. By way of reference, the world record for the 100 yard dash at the time was 9.3 seconds, just four-tenths of a second better than his best time.

Bypassing college to begin his career, he went to work for the Bell Telephone Company and married Arlene DeLand on April 18, 1953, when he was 19 years old. Although no one was aware at the time, Gene was the last surviving Vial male who could keep the Vial name alive. Going back seven generations in France, back into the 1700’s, there was within each Vial family only one son who had a son, and so forth. He broke that pattern in a big way. Gene and Arlene had five children together, all sons, born between 1954 and 1976. 

Gene and Arlene moved from California to Myrtle Creek, Oregon in 1961, where he went to work for a small, local phone company. He had visited Southern Oregon a number of times, fishing on the Rogue River, with his father-in-law and wanted to raise his family outside of the big city atmosphere of Southern California. Several years later he was able to land a job back within the Bell Telephone system, requiring a move to Grants Pass. They raised their family there and Arlene passed away in 1987. Gene lived in that same house until he passed away.

For several years Gene had worked with a young woman, via telephone, in the Portland office of U S West. She served as his clerk and he was very impressed by how organized she was, and she helped him be successful with the jobs he had to organize. In 1989 they began a long-distance relationship. Gene married Leslie Aproetesi on August 12, 1989. Leslie brought two young children to that union, and Gene raised them and loved them as he did his own children. To them he was Papa.

No one was ever sure if Gene remembered the names of his children and grand-children, for he inevitably called everyone “Kid.” He also had plenty of instructions for all of us when, after visiting him, we prepared to leave. These included “drive careful”, “keep your speed down”, and “keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you.”

Gene retired from U S West in early 1990, at the age of 56. Gene was a hard worker and was respected by all with whom he worked throughout his career. He taught many lessons to his children, including hard work, honesty, and good money management. He took pride in his yard and garden until infirmities made that impossible. He acquired an interest in antique clocks at a young age and maintained a large collection of antique clocks, many of which are museum-quality. Anyone who ever lived in that home remembers him winding and taking care of his clocks.

Gene is survived by his wife of 34 years Leslie Vial, sisters, Maureen Johnson and Arleen Smith, five sons - Richard, David, John, Jeff, and Mike; two step-children - Mario and Galina; 34 grandchildren, and 62 great-grandchildren. 

Drive careful, Kid

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, July 19, 2024

Starts at 12:00 pm (Pacific time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

339 Jumpoff Joe Creek Road, Grants Pass, OR 97526

Viewing and visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Friday, July 19, 2024, in the Relief Society Room at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 339 Jump Off Joe Creek Road, Grants Pass OR 97526. Gene's funeral service will begin at 12:00 noon in the chapel. Private interment will be at Granite Hill Cemetery.

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