Lillie C. Walton, 77, a Washington resident for more than 50 years who once operated a well-known boarding house near Howard University, died of cardiac arrest Sunday at Howard University Hospital.

Mrs. Walton had operated "Lillie's" boarding house at 5th Street and Florida Avenue NW during the 1940s and 1950s. During these years she served more than 50 breakfasts and dinners a day to students enrolled in Howard's graduate and professional schools.

Although hers was not a "rooming house," and students were supposed to get lunch near campus, she often ended up preparing lunches for many of the students, who affectionately called her "mother dear."

In 1953, she took a job as first cook and pastry and salad specialist at the Oxford Academy in Pleasantville, N.J., where she worked until retiring in 1965.

Mrs. Walton spent the week days in New Jersey but came home to Washington on weekends to be with her family.

She was a member of the Second New Saint Paul Baptist Church in Washington where she had belonged to the Pastor's Aid Club. She also was a member of Elks Lodge No. 85.

In May 1978, she was awarded a Mayor's Citation for older Americans for her years of service in the city. The award was sponsored by the Green Valley S.N.A.S. Club.

She was the widow of McCartha Mason, a retired master cement mason and former church elder, who died in 1977.

Mrs. Walton was born in Bethel, N.C., and educated in the public schools of Pitt County, N.C. The left North Carolina and came to Washington in 1923, when she and her husband eloped.

Prior to opening her boarding house, she had worked as a pastry cook at the Twinberry Coffee Shop at the YWCA at 9th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW.

She is survived by a son, Oscar Walton, and a daughter, Nancy L. Ross, both of Washington; two other daughters, Marie Silver, of Indianapolis, and Theresa Brown, of Potomac; a brother, John Clark, of Philadelphia; 16 grandchildren, and nine greatgrandchildren.