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.