Harry H. Ward, 55, a retired broadcasting official, died Tuesday at Holy Cross Hospital after a long illness.

He joined the National Association of Broadcasters here in 1958 and from 1965 until 1972 was program director of radio station WGMS.

Before coming here, Mr. Ward had been supervisor of broadcast standards for the National Broadcasting Co. in Chicago for 10 years.

Born in Casper, Wyo., he grew up in Denver, where he became interested in classical music as a choir boy at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Mr. Ward graduated summa cum laude in 1941 from the University of Colorado, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He then was appointed to U.S. Naval Intelligence and became fluent in the Japanese and Korean languages. He served with a naval technical mission to Japan before leaving the service in 1946.

As supervisor of broadcast standards for NBC in Chicago, Mr. Ward was responsible for both radio and television. He also became known for his wit and humors as a radio and television writer.

He was assistant manager for television of the National Broadcasters Association and set the NAB code for that medium.

As program director for WGMS, the "good music" radio station, Mr.Ward was a tireless promoter of classical music. During his tenure, WGMS won the Major Armstrong Award for excellence in broadcasting as well as other awards.

Mr. Ward also had written a column, "Dean of the Kollege of Musical Knowledge" for Forecast magazine. Later he compiled some of the columns into a book, "What's All the Noise About."

He was president of the Opera Theater of Northern Virginia in 1970-71.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie Story Ward, of the home in Kensington; two daughters, Rosa Sue Ward, of Greeley, Colo., and Pamela Ward D'Aiutolo, ofColumbia, Md.; a son, Andrew, of Sanford, Mich.; a sister, Mae Ward Roberts, of Long Island, N.Y., and three grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.