Stacy B.C. Wood Jr., 78, of South Philadelphia, a naval officer and historian devoted to keeping his ancestors' stories alive, died of a stroke Saturday, April 28, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Wood, a native of Chestnut Hill, graduated from the Westtown School, attended Haverford College, then interrupted his education to tend his family's farm outside Malvern. He eventually earned his bachelor's degree in 1961 from American University.

He served in the Navy during the Korean and Vietnam Wars with the Naval Security Group and the National Security Agency. He was awarded a Bronze Star, and, after leaving active service in 1971, headed the Naval Cadet Sea Corps in Lancaster for a time.

After his military service, Mr. Wood became a certified clockmaker, and in 1976, he became director and curator of the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pa.

He wrote several books and dozens of journal articles on the subject, and his book Clockmakers of Lancaster County and Their Clocks 1750-1850, published in 1977, is considered an important work in the field.

Mr. Wood later became a full-time historian and genealogist, tracing his lineage to seven Mayflower Pilgrims. It was an interest he first picked up as a teenager, when he spent summers at an aunt's house in Plymouth, Mass. He was the first volunteer tour guide at the Mayflower House Museum, said his son Joseph.

Mr. Wood founded the central Pennsylvania chapter of the Society of Mayflower Descendants of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and served as governor of that organization from 2001 to 2003.

He started the society's educational program, which brought the Pilgrims to life for schoolchildren, said another son, Inquirer reporter Sam Wood. He was proud of the program, and loved to tell stories of what his ancestors were really like.

"He didn't like the greeting-card version of Thanksgiving," said Sam Wood, whose formal name is S.B. Campion Wood III. "The first thing he'd probably tell you was they didn't wear big buckles on their hats. That was the Puritans."

He was a member of many historical societies and organizations, including the Lancaster County Historical Society, the British Antiquarian Horological Society, the Geneaological Society of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, and the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Some of Mr. Wood's ashes will be scattered at Plimouth Plantation and other sites important to the Pilgrims, Joseph Wood said.

In 2003, Mr. Wood and his wife, Susanne Vollmar Wood, moved to South Philadelphia to be nearer their children. Mr. Wood spent the last year of his life devoting his full attention to caring for Mrs. Wood, whose health had declined.

That was emblematic of his personality, son Sam said.

"He was one of the most honest, ethical, kind, and thoughtful men that I have ever known," Sam Wood said.

In addition to his wife of 51 years and sons, Mr. Wood is survived by daughter Phillipa Wood Siguenza; a brother; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 7, at Bringhurst Funeral Home at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 225 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd. The funeral will follow at 11:30 a.m.

Memorial donations may be made to the Society of Mayflower Descendants of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Education and Classroom Visits Program, care of treasurer Dorothy Y. Lees, Box 123, Wellsville, Pa. 17365.

Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com.