Ruth Vail of Manasquan, died Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, at Tenacre, Princeton at the age of 102. She was born in Rahway and lived for periods in Wall, Ocean Grove, Naples, Maine, Philadelphia and Manasquan.
She was a graduate of Neptune High School and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts; and the Art Students League, New York City. While an art student, she modeled for the late W.H.D. Koerner, Interlaken, a renowned illustrator and painter of western art whose illustrations appeared frequently in the Saturday Evening Post.
She was a professional artist for almost 75 years, painting in oil, watercolor and pastels. She traveled and painted widely throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe, and her subjects varied widely from the canals of Venice to the Twin Lights overlooking Sandy Hook. She painted portraits, flowers, murals and landscapes but was noted for her seascapes, most of which were of waves, beaches, rocks and fishermen in the Shore area. Some of her murals can be seen at Allaire State Park and in the PNC Bank in Manasquan. Some pen and ink drawings of fish and wildlife appeared in the Asbury Park Press in the 1960s and 70s, and in Press publications, including "Shore Area Fish" and "The Shore Catch." She became interested in antique dolls in the 1930s and acquired a huge collection over her lifetime.
The fascination with dolls led her to establish the Roadside Studio on Atlantic Avenue, Wall, where she began to make character dolls, and soon began to market them nationwide. Prior to and during World War II, she employed 25 people to make and market the dolls. She later established the Ruth Vail Studio in Sea Girt, and was a partner with her daughter, the late Lucile Geiser, in the Naples Gallery, an antique business and art studio in Naples, Maine. She taught art classes for children and adults and conducted art demonstrations for more than 40 years.
She was one of the founders of the Manasquan River Group of Artists, a member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Association of Women Artists, the American Artists Professional League, the Society of New Jersey Artists, the Guild of Creative Art, the Asbury Park Society of Fine Arts and the Gov. William Livingston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston.
She was predeceased by three husbands, Paul Geiser, John C.W. Bird, and Stanley Conklin.
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