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Demaine Funeral Home

520 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA

OBITUARY

Albert Leo Romaneski

June 21, 1927November 27, 2019
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Albert Leo Romaneski June 21, 1927 - November 27, 2019 Generous, fun-loving, intelligent, faithful and gracious are just a few of the words that describe Albert Leo Romaneski. Hospitality was his hallmark as well as his legacy, whether passing out Bazooka bubble gum (he bought it by the gross) to his grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or opening his home to Bible Studies, overnight guests from around the world, or sharing his lunch with a stranded traveler at the airport. He had a delightfully quirky sense of humor–a disarming facet of his uncommon brilliance—which banished stuffy decorum, put people at ease, and drew them together. After battling various medical complications, he passed away peacefully at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital on November 27, 2019. He died with all three of his children present, as was his wish, and he said that he had “no unfinished business.” Born Albert Leo Romaneski on June 21, 1927 in Tacoma, Washington, he was named Albert after his father and grandfather and Leo after the doctor who delivered him. Known as Leo for the first half of his life, he preferred Al or Albert after his father died. We knew him as Albert Leo. He was an only child and moved frequently as his parents traveled up and down the West coast looking for work during the Depression. Settling in Portland, Oregon, he attended Lincoln High School and was elected the student body president. During his junior year, while serving as the elected school treasurer, he met a new student named Marilyn, who would later become his wife of 63 years. Marilyn later wrote of their initial meeting, “He was in the Book Exchange and I was there to buy some used books. My first impression of him was, ‘He looks really good behind bars!’” Albert Leo was an outstanding student throughout school and excelled especially in French. Upon graduation in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. The war ended while he was in basic training. He secured an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and entered with the Class of 1950 on July 1, 1946. Four years later, he graduated as a “star man” and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. Six months earlier, he had proposed marriage to Marilyn but she declined because she had not finished college. During graduation leave, the two continued to date. After Marilyn’s parents “seemed to put their stamp of approval on a wedding, [she] tore out the back door, ran over to his house, and told him that [she] could marry him.” They were married on August 8, 1950, in Marilyn’s parents’ church in Portland with her father, Pastor Carl Sodergren, performing the ceremony. They immediately began a cross country trip to the East coast to board a ship to Europe and Albert Leo’s first assignment with the 1st Engineer Battalion. While in Germany, two of their three children were born: Jo Anne and Mark. Later, while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Peter was born. During his military career Albert Leo was blessed with some challenging assignments. He had his first tour in Vietnam in the 1950s. At that time, it was such an obscure posting that he and Marilyn checked a map to be sure where Vietnam was. He taught at the Department of Mechanics at West Point where he was known as “Cease Work Romaneski” because of his penchant for announcing “cease work” so loudly that it reverberated throughout Bartlett Hall. Because of his fluency in French he was selected for a special assignment to what was then the Belgian Congo. While in the Congo he got to know General Mobutu, who requested that Major Romaneski escort him on a tour of the United States in 1963. The tour included a visit to the White House where Albert Leo translated the Rose Garden discussion between Mobutu and President Kennedy. He later served as the Army Attaché at the American Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. This assignment was followed by his second tour in Vietnam where he commanded the 168th Combat Engineer Battalion. In one of his final assignments, he served as the Director of Engineering and Construction with the Panama Canal Company. He retired from the Army as a Colonel in 1975. Following his Army retirement, he served as the chief executive officer for a structural engineering firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Among the projects that he worked on was the construction of the King Khalid Military City complex in Saudi Arabia. In 1984, he resigned from the firm to enter full time Christian ministry with Cadence International, a hospitality ministry to military members and their families, especially in overseas assignments. He graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1987 with a Master of Divinity degree. He would later earn a Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell. During the ensuing years, he and Marilyn served as Cadence Hospitality House Directors throughout Europe. In his final decade, Albert Leo served as a Chaplain at Reagan National Airport where he provided counseling, prayer and Sunday services at the airport chapel for travelers and employees. He also led a weekly Bible study in his home for over twenty-five years, participated in weekly conversation groups in Spanish and French, joined two book clubs, participated in the weekly Bridge group, and became attached to “Buddy,” his beagle, whom he walked, without fail, twice a day. Albert Leo’s family legacy consists of three children and their spouses: Jo and Greg Conroy, Mark and Karalee Romaneski, and Peter and Angie Romaneski. Beloved by his eleven grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren, Albert Leo was deeply devoted to his family and his faith. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, and one grandchild. We, his family, are comforted by the sure knowledge that he now is, at last, home in the Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The memorial service will be announced as soon as a date has been appointed for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Memories

Albert Leo Romaneski

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Carolina Avendano Arce

December 5, 2019

Al is a wonderful neighbor. Always kind, always welcoming, always positive. A wonderful Soul. He's certainly in God's presence now. Many blessings to him and his family.

Suzanne Martin

December 3, 2019

Al was a neighbor of ours, who spoke with my children and me often as he walked Buddy by our house. Always a kind word and a smile, he was a delightful person. I am sure he is now spreading his kindness in heaven. Rest in peace, sweet man.

Herb Billingsley

December 2, 2019

Al was a kind and generous man that we all admired for his deep faith and service to our Lord, Jesus Christ. In spite of his many accomplishments Al was always humble and very approachable. He was eager to teach our Sunday School class when asked to substitute for our regular teacher. Even though we were friends from church, he remembered to send Trish and me an anniversary card each year. You couldn't be around Al for very long and not love him. We will miss his smiling face and kind words for years to come and we look forward to that time when one day we will greet him again face to face. Sincerely, Herb and Trish Billingsley

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2012

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2010

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2008

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2018

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2018, with great grandchildren: Tobin, Evan, and Kara Jane Sneller

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2012

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2010

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2008

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2018

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2018, with great grandchildren: Tobin, Evan, and Kara Jane Sneller

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West Point

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At grandson Daniel’s wedding, May 2013

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90th birthday party: June 21, 2017