George Bowie McCeney, 74, a lawyer and businessman and publisher for 40 years of The News Leader, a weekly newspaper in Laurel, died of a coronary thrombosis Saturday at his Laurel home.

Mr. McCeney was a lifelong resident of Prince George's County. He was born on a farm near Upper Marlboro and moved to Laurel with his family when he was about two years old.

He established a law practice in Laurel in 1934 and, after buying The News Leader in 1938, he ran the weekly newspaper from his law offices there.

During his publishing career, Mr. McCeney bought a number of Prince George's County weekly newspapers, which he merged with The News Leader. They included The Bowie Register, The College Park News and The Beltsville Banner.

Mr. McCeney had also owned a chain of newspapers on Maryland's Eastern Shore during the early 1970s.

He practiced law in Laurel until the 1950s. He had served on the Laurel City Council for two terms and was the city solicitor both before and after World War II.

Mr. McCeney financed a number of diverse businesses in Maryland and was in the insurance business there for over 30 years. He was one of the first real estate developers to restore buildings in Laurel and was a vice president of Victor R. Beauchamp Associates, a Rockville construction firm, for many years.

He earned a bachelor's degree from St. John's College at Annapolis and, in 1931, a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Mr. McCeney was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Laurel Wreath Lodge No. 149 and the Boumi Temple. He also served on the advisory board of the Suburban Trust Co.

His marriage to the former Catherine Turner ended in divorce.

Survivors include a daughter, Virginia M. Watson, of Queenstown; a brother, Dr. Robert S. McCeney, also of Laurel; a sister, Catherine M. Kotrla, of Whispering Pines, N.C.; and four grandchildren.