Honora C. Fairman, 51 a former newspaper woman and magazine and book editor, died of lung cancer Sunday at George Washington University Hospital.

Mrs. Fairman, who lived in Arlington and was active in civic and service groups, retirel last year as editor of the Journal of Home Economics, a professional journal for home economics teachers. She had joined the magazine in 1973.

For about three years before that, she had been the reprint editor at Resources for the Future, a part of the Brookings Institution that publishes books on natural resources.

For several years before her marriage in 1949, she had worked on newspapers in Rochester and Binghamton, N.Y. She was an assistant fiction editor of Redbook magazine in New York in 1950.

From 1950 to 1966, when they moved to Arlington, she and her family lived in Britain, Germany and the Azores, where Mr. Fairman worked on school programs for dependents of military and Defense Department families stationed abroad.

Mrs. Fairman was born in Binghamton, N.Y. She was a graduate of the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. She began doing newspaper work in high school.

In Arlington, she was active in setting up day care centers and was a past president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Arlington. She also was active in the Lyon Village Conservation Committee, a civic group.

In addition to her husband, of the home in Arlington, she is survived by three children, Jeremy, of Trout Lake, Wash; Elisabeth, of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Honora, of the home, and a sister, Mrs. Helen Ganley, of Slippery Rock, Pa.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions tothe Linus Pauling Institute, Menlo Park, Calif., 94205.