Olgerts Parnickis, 56, retired senior editor of the Voice of America's Latvian service, died of cancer Tuesday at George Washington University Hospital.

He had retired in February because of disability after more than 20 years with VOA.

Mr. Parnickis was born in Riga, Latvia, the son of Reinis Parnickis, a noted actor. He followed his father in a career on the stage of the Latvian National Theater in Riga, where he also attended the University of Latvia.

After coming to this country in 1951, he remained active in the theater, appearing in a number of plays as a member of the New York and Washington ensembles of the American Latvian Theater.

Mr. Parnickis first lived in New York City, where he became a part-time announcer and producer with VOA. He joined the VOA Latvian language service staff in Washington in 1956.

He served as an announcer, producer, writer and then senior editor and deputy chief of the Latvian Service. The author of original radio scripts on various aspects of American life. Mr. Parnickis trained numerous young broadcasters.

He is survived by his wife, Elvira, and two sons. Martins and Peteris, all of the home in Silver Spring.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington in Rockville.