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A retired Marine who served as the first director of a consolidated school system for U.S. military dependents has died.

Anthony Cardinale, 79, died March 29 at his home in Florida from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to a release issued by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Cardinale, who became a teacher after retiring as a colonel from the Marine Corps Reserve, took over as assistant director of the Navy’s Overseas Dependent Schooling Branch in 1957 and later served as director. In those days, each military service ran its own school system. That changed in 1964 and Cardinale was named the first director of the consolidated system.

He retired after 30 years of working with the Department of Defense and was replaced as director in 1982 by Beth Stephens. Four more directors of what is now known as DODEA followed, including the current leader, Shirley Miles.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia; sons Michael and Anthony; a brother, Romulo; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, according to a report by Florida Today. A memorial service was held April 1 in Florida and he was scheduled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Those wishing to express condolences can send letters to his widow at 5585 Kensington Loop in Fort Myers, Fla., 33912. An online guest book has also been established at www.legacy.com.

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