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A Tribute to Leo Marshall by Ron Ritter

On April 20, 2016, at the age of 90, Captain Leo Joseph Marshall, Jr., USN (Retired) passed away after a short illness.  Leo had a full and accomplished life and his legacy as a leader and mentor in both a professional and personal sense will endure.

Leo’s Navy career spanned thirty-two years and included command of two surface warfare ships, a destroyer squadron, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and several tours in senior positions on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Joint Chiefs.

Upon his retirement from active duty, Leo was recruited by several Hampton Roads’ ship repair companies to form and lead an effort to train entry level persons for the industry.  As the Executive Director, Leo created the curricula, hired the staff, and recruited the students who attended the Tidewater Maritime Training Institute (TMTI).  He served in this role for several decades imparting both technical and life lessons to the students of the Institute.  During his leadership, TMTI trained over 1,500 students and achieved a remarkable 95% graduation rate and a 99% job placement rate for the graduates.  Many of these graduates of TMTI became key managers and senior executives in the ship repair industry.

Given the success of TMTI through Leo’s leadership, the training institute was renamed the South Tidewater Association of Ship Repairers (STASR) with Leo continuing as the new organization’s Executive Director.  With Leo at the helm, in addition to continuing the important training function, STASR successfully took on the additional role of advocacy for the ship repair industry on a national level.  After serving in this role for several years, Leo retired leaving a legacy of achievement that has laid the foundation for the current Virginia Ship Repair Association (VSRA).

Within the ship repair industry and other organizations in which he took a leadership role, such as the Elizabeth River Project and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads, Leo Marshall was not only a great friend but also a trusted mentor.  A true Renaissance Man, Leo was a person of many talents who led through example.  He was a man of kindness, modesty, charisma and abundant charm.

I recently read an article* about another hero of mine, Arnold Palmer, the great golfer, who, like Leo Marshall, has had a long and productive life.  Like Arnold Palmer, Leo Marshall was a great professional but even a better person.  As I read the article, I came across a few sentences about Mr. Palmer that state precisely the measure of Leo Marshall:

“[Leo Marshall] has enriched our lives by being true to himself.  He has reminded us of the extraordinary importance of common decency and gentlemanly grace.  These important qualities of his will endure.”

Thank you, Leo.  Rest in peace.  Fair winds and following seas.

Ron Ritter

* Sports Illustrated, March 28, 2016, page 18.  Michael Bamberger, author.

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