Stephen L. Freeland, 66, retired associate editor of U.S. News & World Report, died Thursday at the home of a friend in Washington after a long illness.

He had joined the magazine in 1958 and became a specialist in health and medicine.After retiring in 1975, he became an editorial consultant.His clients included the World Bank and the National Commission on Public General Hospitals.

Born in New York City, Mr. Freeman was a graduate of Wesleyan University and held a master's degree from Columbia University.

During the early 1930s, he wrote for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, the new York Herald-Tribune and the New Yorker. He also was an assistant editor with Gotham House, a book-publishing firm.

From 1936 to 1942, Mr. Freeland was a writer and editor in the public-city department of 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. During World War II, he served as a Navy officer with the amphibious forces and took part in the invasions of Sicily and Normandy. He held the Silver Star.

After the war, he was an associate editor for two years of Fortune magazine. In 1947, he went to Germany as chief information officer of the bipartite control office of the U.S. Military Government.

Mr. Freeland served in Paris with the Economic Cooperation Administration in 1949 and 1950.

He became ECA's chief information officer in Copenhagen and later was with the U.S. Information Agency in Belgrade, Seoul, Paris and Washington before joining U.S. News & World Report.

Mr. Freeland was coauthor of a naval history, "Battle Report Volume II - The Atlantic War."

There are no immediate survivors.