James H. Pipkin, 71, a retired Texaco oil official who worked in the company's executive offices here for more than 15 years, died of cancer Friday at his Washington home.

He was named executive vice president in 1962 and elected to Texaco's board of directors in 1971. He retired in 1974.

Mr. Pipkin joined Texaco as an attorney in the Houston office in 1934. He transfered to New York in 1944 and was named vice president for employe and public relations in 1951. He came to Washington in 1957.

He was a native of Huntsville, Tex., and earned a law degree at the University of Texas. He practiced law in Beaumont, Tex., before joining Texaco.

He belonged to the Texas Bar Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the Metropolitan Club in Washington and Burning Tree Country Coub.

Mr. Pipkin was a board member of Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church and had been an elder of the Presbyterian Church for more than 25 years.

He is survived by his wife, the former Zenda Lewis, of the home; two sons, James H. Jr. and Richard L., both of Washington; a brother, Charles S., of Beaumont, and three sisters, Louise Coke, Mrs. C.C. Vick, and Mrs. A.S. McSwain, all of Bryan, Tex.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Paul Landon Banfield Scholarship Fund at Landon School in Bethesda.