Clinton M. Henry, 78, a Washington retail grocer for more than 40 years, died of cancer Monday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Henry joined his father Samuel W. and his brother Jack in the operation of the family grocery at 1923 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The store, the S. W. Henry Co. later moved to 1917 Pennsylvania Ave. NW before it closed in 1964.

Mr. Henry began to work at the store when he was about 20 years old. Among the families to buy their groceries from the Henry's were those of Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.

When the store was forced to close former President Eisenhower wrote his regrets. Lady Bird Johnson sent an autographed photo of the first family, and the White House staff sent a basket of flowers.

The grocery store boasted a number of yellowing letters of appreciation for fine food and service. One said, "Mrs. Truman and Margaret and I are deeply indebted to you for the steak. It was delicious." The note was signed by President Harry S. Truman.

Mr. Clinton was a Mason and a member of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Washington.

He is survived by his brother, Jack W., of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the donor's favorite charity.