The Very Rev. Merritt Francis Williams, S.T.D., 78, a former cannon at Washington Cathedral and dean emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, Mass., died June 22 in Stratford, Conn.

Dean Williams came to Washington Cathedral in 1941 as canon in charge of charitable activities.

After the outbreak of World War II, he was commissioned in the Chaplains Corps of the Naval Reserve and served in the Pacific.

He was aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp when it went down near the Solomon Islands after it was struck by Japanese torpedoes in September, 1942. About 90 per cent of the 1,800 men aboard the carrier were rescued by destroyers.

Later in the war, Dean Williams taught at the Naval Chaplains' School at the College of William and Mary.

He returned to Washington Cathedral after the war, and served there until 1949, when he became dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield. He retired in 1967.

Dean Williams was born in Wakeifield, Mass. He served with the Naval Reserve in World War I. He was a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and of General Theological Seminary in New York City.

He served as a priest in Alaska, Florida and South Carolina before coming here. He served four terms as deputy to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

He also had been a member of the Armed Forces Division of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and of the General Commission of Military Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel in Washington. He had served as national chaplain of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He is survived by his wife, Lucy Cornell Williams; three children, Jeannie Zahner, of Stratford; Merritt F. Jr., of Leominster, Mass., and Richard C., of Portland, Ore., and eight grandchildren.