Retired Air Force Col. Guy L. Roberts, 55, a veteran of three wars and a businessman in this area since his retirement in 1972, died of cancer Monday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md.

Col. Roberts entered the Army Air Corps during World War II and served in the Pacific. He also served in the Korean conflict and in the war in Vietnam, where he commanded the U.S. base at Camranh Bay. He established a home in Arlington when he was assigned to the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the late 1960s.

After leaving military service, he became a vice president of New America Corp., a development firm in Northern Virginia. He also was a court-appointed member of the executive board of Emerson's Restaurants. That appointment came as a result of proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission in which Emerson's was involved.

Col. Roberts was born iN Knoxville, Tenn. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee. He held master's degrees in economics and finance from George Washington University and a doctorate in a new town development from the University of Colorado. He also was a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and of the Air Command and Staff School.

His military decorations aincluded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal and awards from the governments of Korea and Vietnam.

At the time of his death, Col. Roberts was moving his home from Arlington to Washington.The family had gone to Ocean City in the interim.

Survivors include his wife, Eleanor Lynn, and a daughter, Leslie Anne, both of the home; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Guy L. Roberts, of Knoxville, Tenn., and a brother, Harold, of the Chicago area.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Donor Fund, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington.