New Virginia Bancorporation officers told the annual meeting yesterday that the bank holding company enjoyed a record year in 1978-drawing complaints from stockholders that they were not earning enough of a return on their investment.

William H. Whittlesey addressed the meeting in place of president Oscar W. Sellars, who injured himself jogging. Whittlesey said the company like everyone else, must face the challenges of dealing with continuing high interest rates and inflation this year.

The company, which owns the 10 offices of the Northern Virginia Bank, last year acquired the First City Bank of Newport News which four offices and $20 million in assets.

Earnings of the company increased by 24.3 percent from $1.4 million ($1.05 a share) in 1977 to $1.7 million ($1.31 a share) last year.

Total deposits last year exceeded the previous year by 7 percent, growing from $149.082,766 to $159,489,067 last year. Net loans rose 17.5 percent and total assets grew by 11.3 percent during 1978.

In addition to the new bank acquisition the Springfield-based company opened a new office in South Spring-field, last year.

"As we close on another record setting year," Whittlesey said, "we look forward again to the new challenges that lie ahead." This year "has begun with interest rates close to their highest point ever. We anticipate that this condition will remain with us well into the year. As the year progresses it remains to be seen just how effective the administration's efforts will be toward reducing inflation and returning us to a more normal economy."

But two htockholders complained that the company was spending too much on expanding and not paying enough to its investors. One stockholder asked why the cash dividends are basically the same as 10 years ago.

Cash dividends per share rose from 41 cents a share in 1977 to 48 cents a share last year.

Ivan E. Roop Jr., chairman of the board, assured the stockholders that their stock was valuable and favored well with other banks in the area.