Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Winfield South II, 69, who served three tours of duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and commanded the Patuxent Naval Air Station during his 35-year career, died Oct. 23 at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif. He had cancer.

Adm. South was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1934. He became a Navy pilot. He served in the Pacific during World War II and later commanded the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Essex.

He was assigned to the Office of the CNO in Washington form 1946 to 1949, from 1954 to 1956 and from 1960 to 1963. He commanded the Patuxent Naval Air Station from 1957 to 1959 and a carrier division of the 7th Fleet in the Pacific from 1959 to 1960. He retired from Norfolk, Va., in 1965 and made his home in Coronado, Calif.

Suvivors include his wife, Pauline of the home in Coronado, and a brother, retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Hamilton D. South of Westerlo, N.Y.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Fund, c/o the Naval Academy Athletic Association, Annapolis.