In Remembrance: Robert E. Vetault ’45W Died on May 8 2016

Robert Edwards Vetault, former owner and operator of Vetault Flowers (now Wittendale's) on Newtown Lane, and one ofthe last generation of Bonackers to be born at home in East Hampton, died peacefully on May 8 at his daughter's house in Tucson, Arizona. He was 87.

As an English and history major at Yale University, he simultaneously studied in Yale's Graduate School of Drama. He became president of the Yale Dramat, and presented the American premiere of Albert Camus's Caligula under the direction of Robert Costello. After graduation Mr. Vetault became a senior editor of Theatre Arts Monthly in New York City. His editorial career was cut short when he was recalled to military service during the Korean emergency.

An officer in the US Marine Corps, he served during World War II and again during Korea. He loved the Marines so much, the first song he taught his young daughter was the Marine Corps hymn, much to his wife's chagrin.

He returned to East Hampton after his second stint in the Marine Corps, becoming the third generation to operate the family business, Vetault Flowers. The huge Christmas tree next to the flower shop was a community icon, and the open houses every Christmas season had a loyal following. People usually said they had come to see the holiday decorations and plants, which smelled and looked wonderful, but most folks secretly came for the spectacular homemade eggnog of a strongly "medicinal" variety.

Passionate about politics, Mr. Vetault served the East Hampton community in manyways. During his terms on the town council, the town planning board, and the village design review board, he earned a reputation for being direct, eloquent, and relentlessly ethical. He always tried to find practical solutions with the most beneficial long-term effects for the community as a whole. It was not an easy road. Politics took a toll on him physically and mentally, and he gradually backed out of elected community service. Eventually he took up birdwatching and nature photography, which proved to be much more relaxing pastimes.

Surfcasting and the Episcopal Church sustained him throughout his life. When he moved to the desert in 1994 to be closer to his daughter; his only regret was that he could no longer go surfcasting. He was always able to find an Episcopal Church. He had been a warden at St. Luke's in East Hampton. He was a choir member and lay reader at St. Philip's in the Hills in Tucson. And he became senior warden at Grace in the Desert in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he facilitated financing and construction of a new parish center. A room in the center has been named after him.

Mr. Vetault was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Dorothy Vulkoff Vetault, and his parents, Louis R. Vetault and Essie Edwards Vetault ("of the Springs Edwardses, not the Amagansett Edwardses," he was fond of clarifying). He is survived by his three daughters, Sarah Vetault of Tucson, Lisa Odon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Robin Pollack of Las Vegas; by his four grandchildren; and by many friends old and new. His cremains were buried in the family plot at Cedar Lawn some time after the summer season. 

—submitted by the family.

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