Leon "Red" Romo, 78, the athletic trainer at the Naval Academy for 41 years before retiring in 1997, died July 11 at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis of complications related to a stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
During his years at the Naval Academy, Mr. Romo worked primarily with athletes in the football, basketball and baseball programs and, to a lesser degree, lacrosse and crew. Among the best-known athletes he helped were football Heisman Trophy winners Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino and college basketball's 1987 player of the year, David Robinson.
He supervised all four of the Naval Academy's athletic training rooms and the training staffs for Navy's 30 intercollegiate sports. To generations of Navy athletes, he was known for a keen wit and sense of humor that often defused the tension of the training room before practice.
"All I try to do is keep a loose atmosphere up there," he once said. "I think it's very important for a young athlete to go out on the field and not worry about academics or what has happened during the day or what the company officer has said."
He also was known for the trademark baseball cap that was given to him by football coach Eddie Erdelatz when he joined Navy's athletic staff in 1956. For the next 41 years, Mr. Romo wore that same cap to practice every day.
A resident of Annapolis, Mr. Romo was born in Los Angeles. During the early 1940s, he was a running back on the Louisiana State University football team. After graduating from LSU, he was an assistant trainer at Columbia University for one year, then head trainer at Colgate University for 18 months. He returned to Columbia in 1949 and remained there until 1956, when he was named head trainer at the Naval Academy.
In 1995, the training room in the Naval Academy's renovated Ricketts Hall was named for Mr. Romo.
His wife, Marilyn Browne Romo, died in 1997.
Survivors include two children, Rusty Romo and Brynne Lincoln, both of Annapolis; two sisters; and two grandchildren.