John R. Stranford, 71, a longtime banker in the Philadelphia area, died Wednesday, May 8, of cancer, at his retirement home in Bayville, N.J.

Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, Mr. Stranford graduated from Lincoln High School and from Temple University with an associate's degree in business.

He started out in banking with Girard Bank as a teller. From there, he jumped in 1967 to Third Federal Bank, where he started in a mid-level management position and worked his way up to become president and chief executive officer in January 1995.

Under his leadership, Third Federal grew from a small bank serving Northeast Philadelphia to a larger, publicly traded banking operation with 13 branches in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Mr. Stranford officially retired in 2003, but he remained active as a member of the bank's board of directors, his family said. He also served on the Federal Reserve Bank Advisory Council.

In the late 1980s, Mr. Stranford achieved a longtime goal by becoming a licensed pilot. He took friends and family on plane rides in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. In Bayville, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren on his boat, the Lamp Lighter.

Mr. Stranford met and married the former Irmtraud "Trudy" Metzger just over a decade ago. He was formerly married to Beverly A. Lang Stranford. She died in 1996.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Stranford is survived by a son, John H.; a daughter, Sharon A.; three sisters; stepsons Michael Brown and Stephen Brown; five grandchildren; and two stepgrandsons.

A visitation at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, will be followed by an 11:30 a.m. memorial service at the Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Rd., Richboro. Interment is private.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1626 Locust St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103, or Holy Redeemer Home Care and Hospice, 12265 Townsend Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19154.

Condolences to the family may be offered at