J. Noel Macy, 76, a former newspaper publisher who helped found what is now the United States Information Agency died yesterday at Doctors Hospital following a long illness.

A man of diverse interests, Mr. Macy graduated from Harvard University, where he was president of the Harvard Dramatic Club and a member of the Harvard Lampoon, in 1922.

Two years later, Mr. Macy became a reporter on the Yonkers, N.Y., Statesman, but by 1926 he had acquired three newspapers in Westchester County, just north of New Yorth City, with financial help from his family and had become the first president of his own company, County Publishers, Inc.

By 2929, Mr. Macy had added seven more dailies to the chain as well as several weekly newspapers and the name of the firm was changed to Westchester County Publishers, Inc. The newspapers, which by that time were informally known as the "Macy Chain," were sold in April, 1964, to the Gannett Co., Inc., now the nation's largest newspaper conglomerate.

Mr. Macy's other journalistic activities included helping found the Spanish-language newsweekly Vision, which is widely distributed in Latin America. At the time of the Korean War, Mr. Macy was asked by the American Newspaper Publishers Association to become chief of the Printing and Publishing Division of the National Production Authority.

Mr. Macy was the first publisher in the United States to produce two separate, daily newspapers in the same plant, a common practice in newspaper publishing today.

During World War II, Mr. Macy served as chief of the news division and later as head of the War Department's Bureau of Public Relations. He also was Acting Deputy Director of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps during a six month period.

In 1945, Mr. Macy joined the State Department and served as public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. A society column in the July 20, 1947 issue of The Washington Post had this to say about Mr. Macy:

"Goodlooking Noel Macy is one of Assistant Secretary of State Bill Benton's boys . . . Called Public Affairs Attache at our embassy in Cairo, he and his wife have been living in a penthouse on the Nile while rubbing elbows with both exiled and ruling royalty."

While at the State Department, Mr. Macy also attended the San Francisco conference in 1945 that set up the United Nations as liason officer with the foreign press and helped set up the U.S. Information Program, now the U.S. Information Agency.

Mr. Macy was an expert horseback rider (he had enlisted in the New York National Guard in 1923 and became a Cavalry Captain) and a private airplane pilot.

Among Mr. Macy's particular concerns was the preservation of Georgetown, where he and his wife lived since World War II. In 1966, he organized the Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Georgetown and later became the group's president. He founded the Georgetown Corporation, which helped preserve historic properties, and was active in the Georgetown Citizens Association.

Mr. Macy belonged to the University Club in New York and the New York Yacht Club. He also was a member of the Metropolitan Club of Washington and the Mill Reef Club of Antigua.

Surviving are his wife, Elena Aldcroft Macy, of the home; and three sons by a former marriage; Josiah Jr., of Mountainstream, Ala., Archer Martin, of Washington, and Noel Everit, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Washington Chapter, Recording for the Blind.