Col. Kirby M. Gillette, 67, a retired Air Force officer and lawyer, died of a heart ailment Wednesday at DeWitt Hospital in Ft. Belvoir.

A native of Jackson County, Mich., he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Wayne State University.

A special agent for the FBI from 1939 to 1941 in Michigan and Texas, he resigned from the bureau to join the Army's Counterintelligence Corps (CIC).

Col. Gillette helped organize the CIC in Europe during World War II while attached to Scotland Yard, and served as chief of the CIC in Europe.

Returning to this country in 1944, he became executive officer of the Counterintelligence Corps school in Chicago. Meanwhile, a method for producing plutonium was being developed at the metallurgical laboratory at the University of Chicago as part of the "Manhattan Project," the development of the atomic bomb.

Col. Gillette then became security officer for the Manhattan Engineering District at the Hanford Engineer Works, located on a 1,000-square-mile tract of land on the Columbia River, north of Pasco, Wash. It was at the works that large-scale production reactors were located for plutonium production.

Col. Gillette served as chief of CIC in Hawaii after the war. In 1948 he was assigned here as commander of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at Bolling Air Base.

While stationed there, he and his staff, with the cooperation of the D.C. police, solved a murder case in 1950 that involved the questioning of more than 5,000 military personnel. As a result of the investigation, he received an "honorary badge" from the metropolitan police and promotion to full colonel.

He served as head of OSI in the United Kingdom from 1952 to 1956, before returning to this country and retiring in 1962. Until 1976, he was engaged in the private practice of law and business.

Col. Gillette is survived by his wife, Nadine G., of the home in Springfield; a daughter, Michele Anne, of Williamsburg, and three sisters, Unita Tavares, of Honolulu, Faye Langley, of Torrance, Calif., and Helen Reach, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Lawyers' Wives of Arlington Legal Scholarship Fund.