Dr. Oscar Hugh Fulcher, 77, founder and former chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Georgetown University Medical School, died of respiratory failure Friday at his home in Washington.

Dr. Fulcher joined the staff at Georgetown in 1946 after World War Ii service as a Navy surgeon. He founded the neurosurgery department that year and was its chairman until 1964, when he become a clinical professor at the school. He continued to teach until his death.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Fulcher was a neurosurgeon on the staffs of a member of hospitals. They included D.C. General, Providence, Sibley Memorial, Children's, and the old Casualty Hospital.

He published numerous articles in technical journals and also took part in developing the use of tantalum, a rare metal, for repairing skull defects.

Dr. Fulcher was a member of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, the American Medical Association, the Harvey Cushing Neurosurgical Society and the Philadelphia Neurosurgical Society, of which he was a past-president and historian. He was the recent vice president of the Academy of Medicine of Washington, D.C., and a trustee of Group Hospitalization Inc.

Dr. Fulcher was born in Amherst County, Va. He earned a bachelor's degree at the College of William and Mary in 1922, and a doctorate in medicne at the University of Virginia in 1926. He was an intern in Seattle, Wash., and a fellow in surgery at the Mayo Clinic from 1928 to 1933. He was chief of surgery at Grace Hospital in Welch, W.Va., from 1933 to 1937.

During his Navy service he rose to the rank of captain and for a time was stationed on Guadacanal in the South Pacific. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Survivors include his wife, the former Irene Pendleton, of the home; two brothers, William M. and Lewis P., both of Amherst, and a sister, Gertrude Thaxton, of Bedford, Va.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Oscar Hugh Fulcher Memorial Fund, c/o the Department of Neurosurgery, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, 20007.