Michael Joseph Vilandry, 62, a longtime resident of Bridgewater, died March 24, 2010, in Chincoteague, Va.

Mr. Vilandry was born Jan. 11, 1948, in Suffern, N.Y., the oldest of seven children. He quickly became a role model and caregiver to his siblings, learning parenting skills at a young age.

As a young man, after being drafted, Mr. Vilandry served in the United States Marine Corps. in the manner he did everything, fearlessly.

Mr. Vilandry fought in Vietnam at the height of the conflict in at least four key battles, earning him three Purple Hearts in the process. In addition, he was recognized numerous times as a defense rifle expert, sharpshooter and marksman.

His actions during the war earned him many medals, ribbons and badges, with the most distinguished being the Bronze Star.

Mr. Vilandry rose to the rank of corporal and was honorably discharged in 1970.

Presumably putting all that aside, he began anew and sought a career at New Jersey Bell. With a solid work ethic, he began his rise up the corporate ladder. He ended his vocation supervising more than 20 installation and repairmen technicians.

As meticulous as he was, he led his employees to be the highest performing group in their area. With that accomplished, he retired after nearly 30 years of service.

He met the love of his life on Sept. 11, 1976. They built a life together, surrounded by their children and animals, and eventually married on Oct. 21, 1988.

They settled with their brood on the land of their dreams.

Mr. Vilandry was a passionate animal rights advocate, was active in the local community and volunteered at his grandchildren's school.

He was a member of the PTO, an excellent bowler and a proficient debater.

Mr. Vilandry is survived by his wife, P. Gay (Crawford) Harrah, of Bridgewater, and their many animals; two children, Karen (Crawford) Monaghan, of Bridgewater, and Stephen Crawford, of Somers; his grandchildren, by whom he was called "Pop," Charlie Watson, of Westport, R. Kyle Monaghan, Aidan Monaghan and Sarah Welsh, of Bridgewater, Jim Welsh and Stacey Welsh, of New Milford, and Tracey Welsh, of Maine. He was predeceased by his parents.

A memorial service and blessing will be held May 3, with details to be announced closer to the date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to HELP for Pets, Inc., a non-profit, non-destroy animal advocate humane society, P.O. Box 4424, Danbury, CT 06813.