WIlliam P. (Bill) Ames Sr., 84, president of the Murphy and Ames Lumber Co. Inc. who was active in Arlington County civic affairs, died of congestive heart failure Monday at his home in Arlington.

He had joined the Lumber firm, founded by his father and an uncle, after graduating from Mississippi A&M College in 1914. He became its president in 1941 and remained active there until recently.

Mr. Ames guided the business through a disastrous fire in Rosslyn in 1951. The firm today has branches in Falls Church, Fairfax and Herndon.

Mr. Ames was born in Richmond, and grew up in Westmoreland County. He married Eva V. Wingert in 1916 and they had lived in the same house, which he had built in Arlington, for the past 62 years.

He had helped establish the first high school in Arlington as well as the county's water and sewer system. He had served on the Arlington County Planning Commission and was the only Republican member of the Arlington County Board during 1937-39.

Mr. Ames was a trustee of Arlington Hospital, a past president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, a charter member and past president of the Virginia Building Material Dealers Association and a director of the Prudential Building and Loan Association, now known as Interstate Federal.

In 1962, he donated land for the establishment of the Arlington Temple and Community Center (United Methodist). A chapel in the building is dedicated to his parents.

Earlier, in 1950, Mr. Ames and a brother, the late Col. Norman B. Ames, had bought the First Church of the Nazarene in Arlington after the property had been foreclosed because of delinquent mortgage payments. They spearheaded a drive to raise funds for the church and returned it to its congregation.

Mr. Ames had helped bring Alcoholics Anonymous to the Washington area. He and his wife helped establish more than 200 AA groups at various locations in the country and they counseled thousands of alcoholics.

He was a member of Columbia Lodge No. 285 of the Masons and of Kena Tmeple in Alexandria.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Mary Farley Thompson, and Frances Harrow, and a son, William P. Jr., all of Arlington, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to Arlington Hospital, Arlington Temple or The Farm of Alcoholic Rehabilitation Inc., in Arlington.