Nehemiah Silver, a lawyer and retired director of the U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence Branch, died of a heart attack Friday at his home in Takoma Park. He was 61.

Mr. Silver served as intelligence branch director for the Coast Guard from 1958 to 1973. He retired then, after 30 years of government service, and practiced law part-time.

He was born in Gloucester, Mass., and lived in Philadelphia, where he attended public schools. In 1935, he moved to Washington and went to work as a clerk in the Government Printing Office.

In 1942, Mr. Silver received a juris doctor degree from George Washington University Law School. He later served as an attorney-adviser in the office of the chief counsel of the Economic Stabilization Agency.

Most of his government career was spent as an intelligence investigator for various agencies, including the U.S. Army and the Small Business Administration during the 1950s.

He was a member of the U.S. Treasury Agents Chapter of the Association of Federal Investigators.

Mr. Silver was licensed to practice before the District of Columbia Bar, the Virginia State Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court. He was a member of the D.C. Bar Association and the D.C. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association.

An Army veteran of World War II, he also belonged to the American Legion Government Accounting Office Post 48. In addition, he was a member of Samuel Gompers Masonic Lodge 45.

Mr. Silver is survived by his wife, Joan, a son, Stephen, and two daughters, Valerie and Bethany, all of the home; four brothers, Dr. Lewis Silver of Evanston, Ill., Albert, Nathan, and Reuben of Philadelphia; and a sister, Gertrude Cook of Orinda, Calif.