Virginia S. Balmer, 78, who had been a volunteer for the National Symphony Orchestra, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, died Monday at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. She had been suffering from leukemia.

Mrs. Balmer was born in Raleigh, N.C., and grew up in Washington. She graduated from old Business High School and then worked for the American Security Bank and Trust Co. for three years.

In 1921 she married Jesmond D. Balmer, now a retired brigadier general in the Army, and accompanied him to Army posts in this country, the Philippines and Europe throughout his career. Gen. and Mrs. Balmer established their home in Bethesda in 1960.

Mrs. Balmer worked for the American Red Cross during World War II and for many years afterwards. Since moving to Bethesda, she also had been active in behalf of the Salvation Army and the National Symphony. She was a member of the Women's Club of Fort Myer, Va.

Her hobbies were gardening and cooking.

In addition to her husband, fo the home in Bethesda, survivors are a daughter, Jane B. McClellan, of Fairfax, Va., a son, Jesmond S. Balmer Jr., a retired Army colonel who lives in Potomac, Md., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Leukemia Society of America, or the Army Distaff Foundation Inc., 6200 Oregon Ave. NW; Washington.