Retired Navy Cmdr. Edward Frederick Roeder, 55, a public affairs specialist who latter was a Foreign Service Reserve officer, died of a brain tumor Thursday at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

His last assignment with the Navy before he retired in 1969 was as chief of the audio-visual productions branch in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

He was appointed a Foreign Service Reserve officer in 1971 and was in the Bureau of Public Affairs at the State Department here until a second retirement last July because of illness.

Cmdr. Roeder was born in St. Louis. He joined the U.S. Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1943. He was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1945 and assigned to the battleship, the USS Missouri.

A year later he returned to inactive duty and earned a degree in speech from St. Louis University. He was called back to active duty during the Korean conflict and was assistant operations officer of Commander Task Force 95 in Korean waters.

He later had public information assignments in Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Fort Slocum, N.Y., before coming to Washington in 1965.

Cmdr. Roeder was a member of the National Press Club, the Army-Navy Country Club, and the Radio Television News Directors Association. He belonged to St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria Brooks Roeder, and two daughters, Michelle and Donna all of the home in Arlington: four other daughters, Shirley Hoisington, of Belleville, Ill., Gail O'Donnell, of Malvern, Pa., Karen Clarkson, of Thetford Hill, Vt., and Pamela, of Alexandria; his mother, Theresa Roeder, and four sisters, Dorothy Reich, Katherine Unwin. Joan Butler and Betty Scheafer, all of St. Louis; a brother, Gerald, of Lafayette, Ind., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.