Leah Barnett Ferson, 98, an area resident since 1943, died of pneumonia Sunday at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington in Rockville.

Mrs. Ferson, a native of Balitmore, had worked as a secretary in Chicago before her marriage in 1904 to Bernhardt R. Ferson.

In 1943, they moved to Washington and she helped her husband run a luncheonette in the No. 2 Giant Food store in Northeast Washington until his death in 1950. Her daughter, Charlotte Ferson Lehrman, is one of the principal owners of Giant Food Inc.

Before moving to Washington, Mrs. Ferson had helped found the Chicago Consumptive Relief Society there. The society later became the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center in Denver, Colo.

Mrs. Ferson, who lived in Washington, was said to be the oldest member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Besides Mrs. Lehrman, who lives in Washington, survivors include a brother, Milton Barnett, of Palo Alto, Calif.; three sisters, Jenny Rabens, of Chicago, and Anna Goldberg and Ruth Warsaw, both of Los Angeles; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Jacob Lehrman Fund at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. CAPTION: Picture, LEAH B. FERSON, 1968 Photo