W.D. Kavanaugh, 71, former Washington corporate representative of the American Cyanamid Chemical Co., died Sunday at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home.

He had been manager of the Washington offices of the firm from 1941 until retiring in 1970.

While still maintaining a home in Washington, Mr. Kavanaugh and his wife, Alice Sexton Kavanaugh, had lived mainly in Adare, County Limerick, Ireland, for the last five years. He had returned here a month ago after he became ill.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, he graduated in 1927 from the University of Notre Dame where he had been manager of the varsity football team under Knute Rockne in 1936. Mr. Kavanaugh also attended Fordham Law School for several years.

After graduation, Mr. Kavanaugh worked for several private businesses in Dayton and was with the New York accounting firm of Peat, Marwick and Mitchell before joining the accounting department of American Cyanamid in New York in 1934.

Later he was manager of the firm's western district office in Chicago and with its paper and heavy chemicals department in New York until coming here.

Mr. Kavanaugh served as a major with the lend-lease branch of Army Chemical Warfare Services in World War II.

He was a former member of the board of directors of the Notre Dame National Alumni Association and a former governor of the D.C. chapter of the Notre Dame Foundation. He twice had received the Notre Dame Man of the Year award. He was a member of the Notre Dame Club of Washington.

Mr. Kavanaugh belonged to the Metropolitan and Chery Chase Clubs here and the Chemists Club in New York.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four sons, Richard, of Provindence, R.I., and Michael, Kevin and Patrick, of Washington; Two sisters, Katherine Kuntz, of San Antonio Tex., and Anne Wagner, of Dayton; a brother, Thomas, of Dayton, and two grandchildren.

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