Paul T. Garrett, 71, retired assistant director of the department of foreign languages in the D.C. public school system, died of cancer April 16 in McAllen, Tex. He had moved there from Silver Spring in 1971.

He also was a well-known musician here. He came to Washington in the late 1920s to play clarinet with the National Symphony Orchestra and also played later with the Baltimore Symphony.

Mr. Garrett, who played saxaphone, flute and piano, as well as other instruments, taught a number of musical groups here, including the Georgetown University Band and the Beltsville community band.

He served in th U.S. Navy in World War II, playing with the Navy Band, and was sent to the Pacific.

Mr. Garrett began his teaching career as a temporary teacher of orchestra and band music as the old Business High School in Washington in 1930-31. In 1937, he was appointed a temporary teacher of English and Latin at Macfarland Junior High School. He became a teacher of Latin in 1938.

He was transferred to Western High School in 1957 and became assistant director of foreign languages in all schools two years later. He retired in 1969.

Mr. Garrett had been active in the D.C. and National Education Associations, the D.C. Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Teachers, the Classical Association of Atlantic States, the American Association of Teachers of German, the Washington Classical Club and the University Park Church of the Brethren.

Born in Oakville, Ind., he was a graduate of manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. He earned a master's degree from George Washington University after coming here. He also took graduate work at Middlebury Collage and Johns Hopkins, Catholic and Indians Universities.

He is survived by his wife, Beatrice, of the home in McAllen; a son, Geoffrey, of Worcester, Mass; two daughters, Portia Scheltus, of Noordwyk, Holland, and Hannah Jackson, of Olema, Calif; a sister, Grace Dwiggins, of Mc Allen, and six grandchildren.