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Ronald F. Marryott, 71; rear admiral led Naval Academy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Rear Admiral Ronald F. Marryott, who led and taught a generation of sailors and officers during a US Navy career that spanned 33 years, died Saturday of complications of leukemia. He was 71.

Admiral Marryott was the US Naval Academy's superintendent from 1986 to 1988. The St. Margaret's Heights resident was honored last year as a Naval Academy Distinguished Graduate.

''His significant and enduring contributions helped develop thousands of young men and women into leaders of character who are serving our Navy and Marine Corps," said Rear Admiral Rodney P. Rempt, the academy's current superintendent.

Rempt said Admiral Marryott ''embodied the highest ideals" of the academy.

Admiral Marryott was a member of the Class of 1957. He served as a naval aviator and commanded the Iceland Defense Force. He also served seven tours in the Pentagon and was president of the Naval War College from 1985 to 1986.

''Best job in the Navy," he said last year, describing his time as superintendent. ''It was like a real homecoming for me."

Admiral Marryott said that one of his greatest challenges as the academy's 52d superintendent was to stanch the dropout rate for female midshipmen. As superintendent, he appointed a task force to examine the reasons for the high attrition rate in the 1980s.

He found that much of the problem was that female recruits often lacked strong backgrounds in sciences or athletics, two staples of life at the academy. Once recruiters started looking for female students who were strong in these areas, the attrition rate dropped, he said.

Admiral Marryott flew patrol and surveillance operations in P-2V and P-3 aircraft over both the Atlantic and the Pacific. He participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis blockade and served as Project Mercury recovery officer for the first three manned spaceflights.

In the mid-1960s, he served on the academy's faculty and taught courses in naval history and the history of US foreign policy, American government, and politics and international relations.

Admiral Marryott saw duty in Vietnam and flew numerous Cold War missions. He went on to command Patrol Squadron 90 and the Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, Calif.

His decorations include the Air Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Order of the Falcon, Iceland, and the Order du Merite, France.

Admiral Marryott retired from active duty in 1990 and served as president and chief executive officer of the George C. Marshall Foundation before returning to Annapolis as president and chief executive of the academy's alumni association. He retired from the association in 2000 but remained active and served as cochairman of Class of '57 fund-raising.

He leaves his wife, Carol; his three sons, Ronald Jr. of Santa Monica, Calif., Robert of Hartford, Conn., and Thomas W. of Annapolis; his daughter-in-law, Linda Jankov of Hartford, Conn.; and a brother, Thomas D. Marryott of Port Charlotte, Fla.

Admiral Marryott will be buried with full military honors at the US Naval Academy Thursday.

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