Growing up in McHenry, Illinois, Vale participated four years in basketball and golf at McHenry High School. He was a member of three conference championship golf teams. Team captain his final two years, he placed 3rd in the Illinois High School state tournament as a junior and 5th as a senior.
He entered Lake Forest in the fall of 1939 and played on the basketball team his first two years. He had to settle for intramural golf competition because the college did not have a varsity program. He stayed active outside of athletics as a member of Digamma Alpha Upsilon, the Economics Club, and the Lettermen's Club.
At the outset of World War II, Vale joined the Army Air Corps and served as a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater. Discharged in 1946, he returned to Lake Forest to complete his degree in business administration and to participate on the college's first varsity golf team, earning medalist honors.
Following his graduation in 1948, he married classmate Marjorie Davis '42. After a decade of working for an engineering firm, Vale returned to the game of golf and became the PGA pro at the McHenry Country Club, a position he retained for 20 years. Ultimately he went into business with his son manufacturing the first-ever metal/wood clubs and assisted in the founding of the Taylor Made Golf Company.