Former deputy mayor for finance of New York Kenneth Axelson will return to the J.C. Penney Co. as vice president and director of finance. Axelson had been on leave from Penney's during his one year stint as deputy mayor.

Axelson had been under consideration by the Carter administration for the post of deputy Treasury secretary when reports surfaced that he was one of several Penney executives questioned in an investigation into a kickback scheme. Axelson has been cleared by both a grand jury and a Penney internal investigation.

Century National Bank in Maryland has promoted Thomas J. Leonard III to president. Leonard had been the bank's executive vice president and chief executive officer.

Century also named W. F. John Carpenter executive vice president and cashier and Terri A. Cooper senior vice president and credit administration officer.

New executive vice president at Security National Bank is Thomas J. Schaefer. Schaefer was mot recently senior vice president at Madison National Bank.

Bank of Virginia has elected Robert M. Freeman senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Freeman joined the bank in 1971 and was named executive vice president in 1975.

Washington Federal Savings and Loan Association has promoted Carroll E. Amos to vice president and treasurer. Amos joined the bank in 1975 as an auditor and was later promoted to controller.

Charles I. Hopkins Jr. has been appointed chairman of the National Railway Labor Conference, the national bragaining agency for the railroad industry, effective April 1.

Hopkins succeeds William H. Dempsey, who will become president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Railroads on April 1.

Scope, Inc., in Reston has named Linus Schwartz vice president. Schwartz is president of National Controls, Inc., in California, a Scope subsidiary.

Five new vice president at Auto-Train Corp. are Raymond H. Thornton, who will be responsible for operations; Thomas E. Blayney, who will head the marketing department; Obie R. Moore III, who will handle passenger services; Lawrence G. Reuter, who will be responsible for capital developments, and Mayles J. Tralins, who will handle law and administration.

Maryland Realty Trust has elected Donald H. Wilson Jr. chairman to succeed Charles G. Haynsworth, who resigned his position because of his duties with First Maryland Mortgage Co., where he is executive vice president.

Former administrator of the Department of Transportation's Urban Mass Transportation Administration Robert E. Patricelli has been appointed vice president at Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. He will head the company's government relations department.

Former Indiana Senator Vance Hartke has also gone into the insurance business. He will represent Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Co. as an insurance broker and legal advisor.

Wallace Kendall, retired deputy assistant commissioner for public affairs at the Social Security Administration, is launching Thinking Ahead, a new publication for people 50 years old and older. Kendall plans to begin publication in July.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association has named Donald G. Brotzman vice president for government relations. Brotzman served the Ford administration as assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs and prior to that was served five terms as a U.S. representative from Boulder, Colo.

Former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr. may soon add yet another directorship to his collection. He has been nominated to the board of American Can Co.

William W. Scranton, former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been nominated to the board of Cummins Engine Co.