Clarence Lindsay Winecoff, 78, a retired Navy captain and former teacher and principal in the Loudon County public school system, died at Loudoun Memorial Hospital in Leesburg May 12 following a heart attack.

Capt. Winecoff, who was born in Concord, N.C., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1924. In the years before World War II, he served on a battleship, in submarines, as a mathematics instructor at the Naval Academy and as a gunnery officer on a cruiser.

During the war, he commanded a destroyer escorting convoys in the Atlantic and then a destroyer division doing the same duty. His later assignments included Guam, where he was deputy chief of staff for the Mariannas Islands; Washington, where he was executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1948 to 1950; Puerto Rico, and Boston, where he retired from the Navy in 1954.

Capt. Winecoff then settled in Waterford, Va., and became a teacher in the Loudoun school system. At the time of his second retirement about 1970, he was principal of Waterford Elementary School.

The captain twice was awarded the Legion of Merit.

He was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Capt. Winecoff's wife, the former Virginia (Nell) Compton, died in 1975.

Survivors include a sister, Mrs. Alda Kamellin of Beverly Hills, Calif.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Presbyterian Home for Children, P.O. Box 1173, Lynchburg, Va., 24505.