Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Withers Alexander Burress, 83, a veteran of both World Wars and commander of the First Army in the early 1950s, died yesterday at the Manor Care Nursing Home in Arlington.

A native of Richmond, Gen. Burress was a 1914 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. During World War I he served with the 23rd Infantry Regiment of the Second Division, participating in four campaigns.

Between World War I and World War II he graduated from the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth and the Army War College in Washington.

From 1935 to 1940 he was professor of military science at VMI, and in 1940 he was assigned to the War Department General Staff in Washington

Gen. Burress activated, trained and commanded the 100th Infantry Division during World War II, in its participation in the Rhineland, Ardennes and Central European Campaigns. After the war, he commanded the U.S. Constabulary in Europe and served as Intelligence Director for the European Comman before taking charge of the First Army, headquartered at Governors Island, N.Y., in 1952.

Among his military decorations were the distinguished service medal, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and the Croix De Guerre.

He is survived by his daughter, Mrs. W. G. Dolvin, of Arlington, three brothers, John W., of Salem, Va. Charles, of Roanoke, and William, of New Market, Va.; and three grandchildren.