Raymond Edwin Letner, 58, a retired supervisory engineering technician with the U.S. Geological Survey, died of cancer Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

He had joined the agency in the late 1950s and specialized in transforming ideas and theories into precise functioning instruments. He retired last March 31.

Born in Mattoon, Ill., Mr. Letner moved to Washington with his family as a boy. He graduated from McKinley Tech High School and learned his trade as a machinist at the Washington Navy Yard.

He later transferred to the National Bureau of Standards. In the 1950s, Mr. Letner left government service for five years to work for the Melpar Corp.

Shortly before his retirement from the Geological Survey, he received a special citation for his work.

Mr. Letner was a member of the New Jerusalem Lodge No. 9 of the Masons. He was a past president of the Washington Chapter of the American Wedding Society. He attended Capitol Hill Metropolitan Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Jeanette, of the home in Washington; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garvey E. Letner, and a sister, Bonnie L. Sherman, all of Pinellas Park, Fla., and a brother, Ivan E., of Roanoke.

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