Ronald F. Marryott, 71, a Navy rear admiral who headed the U.S. Naval Academy as its superintendent from 1986 to 1988, died June 4 at his home in Annapolis. He had complications from leukemia.

Adm. Marryott said one of his greatest challenges as the academy's 52nd superintendent was to staunch the dropout rate for female midshipmen. 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, as were their male counterparts, the attrition rate dropped, Adm. Marryott said.

His final active-duty assignment, in 1990, was as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Ronald Frank Marryott was born in Eddystone, Pa., and raised in Prospect Park, Pa.

He was a 1957 graduate of the Naval Academy and received a master's degree in international relations from American University in the mid-1960s.

He became an aviator and flew many Cold War missions. He also participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis blockade by flying surveillance missions, and also in recovery operations during the Project Mercury spaceflights.

He served many tours at the Pentagon and was president of the Naval War College from 1985 to 1986.

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

His decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.

After his military retirement, he was president and chief executive officer of the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Va., before returning to Annapolis as president and chief executive officer of the Naval Academy's alumni association. He retired from the association in 2000.

A high school basketball star, he returned to the courts in the Maryland Senior Olympics last year after recuperating from chemotherapy. He won gold and a silver medals for various basketball competitions.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Carol Westendorf Marryott of Annapolis; three sons, Ronald Marryott Jr. of Santa Monica, Calif., Robert Marryott of Hartford, Conn., and Thomas W. Marryott of Annapolis; and a brother.