Rua Van Horn, 85, a retired home economist who was a program specialist with the U.S. Office of Education, died March 8 at her home in Alexandria.

She worked for the Office of Education from 1934 until 1958, and again from 1961 to 1963.

Born in North Loup, Neb, Miss Van Horn was a graduate of Lewis Institute in Chicago and held a master's degree from Teachers College of Columbia University.

She taught home economics in high schools for 10 years and then became a state supervisor of home economics in Montana and a teacher at Montana State University. She also taught during the summers at Colorado State University, Teachers College of Columbia, Iowa State University and the universities of Washington, Chicago, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

After joining the Office of Education, Miss Van Horn worked in the southern, central and Pacific regions. In 1946, she helped organize the Future Homemakers of America, which was cosponsored by the Office of Education and the American Home Economics Association. She served on its advisory board from 1947 to 1954.

In 1958, Miss Van Horn became chief adviser in the Ford Foundation's Pakistan-Oklahoma State University program to help Pakistan's ministry of education establish three degree-granting colleges of home economics.

She returned to the Office of Education in 1961 as a specialist in the vocational division of employment of women.

Miss Van Horn belonged to the American Home Economics Association, the American Vocational Association and the D.C. Home Economics Association, of which she was president in 1948-49.

She is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Carl Anderson, of Milton, Wis., and Ruby Kull, of Lake Mills, Wis., and two brothers, Ivan L.Van Horn, of Belle Glade, Fla., and C.W. Van Horn, of Yuma, Ariz.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the American Home Economics Association Foundation Endowment Fund or the Future Homemakers of America Leadership DevelopmentFund.