The Obit For Red Oates

Leo F. Oates

Published in Daily Press from September 17 to September 18, 2011

WILLIAMSBURG - Leo F. "Red" Oates, 87, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on Sept. 15, 2011.

Red was born in Natick, Mass., on July 28, 1924, the only child of Frank and Josephine Oates. Red grew up a hometown sports hero in Milford, Mass., where he starred on the football, basketball and baseball teams. In 2004, he was enshrined in the Milford High School Hall of Fame. Red was drafted as a catcher by the Boston Red Sox directly out of high school, but after a season in the minor leagues in the summer of 1942, Red turned 18 and answered his country's call to duty. Red served in the Pacific with the United States Marine Corps throughout WWII, where he fought in the epic battle of Iwo Jima.

After the war, Red returned home to Massachusetts to continue his education at Springfield College. In the fall of 1949, he met the love of his life, Marilyn Miller, and they were married in the spring of 1951.

Shortly thereafter, Red began a 32-year career with the Department of the Army in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) area. Rising from Sports Director at Fort Meade, Md., Red retired in 1985 as the Chief of MWR for U.S. Army Europe.

Red received many commendations during his career. He was named Federal Employee of the Year in 1971 and in 1985, Red was awarded the White Plume, the Army's highest award for service to the troops in the field of MWR.

In the early years, Red also pursued a second career as a basketball referee. He began with JV games in high school, and worked his way up through varsity, the Atlantic Coast Conference and eventually to the NBA. Red called games in the NBA and ABA for more than 10 years. Throughout his life, Red was an avid hunter and an accomplished golfer. For 20 years following his retirement, Red was a fixture at the Golden Horseshoe, both as a starter and as a player.

Red is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Marilyn; his daughter and son-in-law, Patti and Jon Martin; his son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Pam Oates; and his four grandchildren, Riley, Sarah, Connor and Ben.
A funeral mass will be offered for Red at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19, at St. Bede Catholic Church, 3686 Ironbound Rd., Williamsburg, followed by interment in the columbarium with Marine Corps honors. A reception will follow in the St. Bede commons.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Salvation Army of Williamsburg or the Wounded Warrior Program.