John Osman, 71, a former vice president of the Ford Foundation and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution from 1961 until he retired in 1975, died June 12 at Inlet Point, Garden City, S.C., after suffering a coronary occlusion.

He and his wife, Mary E. Osman, were in South Carolina on a vacation.

Mr. Osman joined the Ford Foundation in New York in 1952, and was named vice president for the foundation's Fund for Adult Education two years later. He served in that capacity until joining the Brookings' staff here.

At Brookings, he helped organize urban and regional economic studies and directed the urban policy conference program.

Although he was an economic historian who specialized in the study of cities, he also directed on the future of the textile industry in this country and the future of large-scale agriculture in the mid South.

Since his retirement, Mr. Osman had served as an urban policy and management consultant with Brookings.

Mr. Osman was born in Indiana. He served in the Navy during World War II.

He earned a bachelor's degree at Presbyterian College in South Carolina, a master's degree at the University of Richmond, and a master's in thelogy at Union Theological Seminary. He also earned a certificate in urbanism at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands.

Mr. Osman was the author of a number of works on urban history. He also wrote a study that compared the economies of cities of the old Hanseatic League and cities of the present-day European Common Market.

Before joining the Ford Foundation, he worked at a number of colleges and universities, including South-western College in Memphis, Tenn., where he was an assistant to the school's president, a track coach, and a philosophy teacher.

He is survived by his wife, of the home in Washington.