Adolphus M. Prothro, 63, retired general counsel of the Federal Housing Administration, died of cancer Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

He joined the FHA in 1944, was named general counsel in 1961, and retired eight years later.

Mr. Prothro received a number of government citations, including a Distinguished Service Award from the Housing and Home Finance Agency.

After leaving government service, he worked for several years as a partner in the Washington law firm of Krooth and Altman, where he speciaized in housing law, before retiring a second time.

Mr. Prothro was a native of Arkansas. He received a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a law degree from George Washington University.

He served in the Army during World War II, and later retired from the reserves with the rank of colonel.

He was a longtime resident of McLean, before he and his wife, Carolyn, moved to Rossmoor Leisure World in Maryland about eight years ago.

Mr. Prothro had been a trustee and deacon of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Carol Kendall, of Bayreuth, West Germany, and Martha Prothro, of Washington; a son, David, of Glen Burnie, Md., and two grandchildren.

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