Otela Church, 84, an Arlington resident for 40 years and a former government physicist, died of cardiac arrest Tuesday at the Hermitage Methodist Home in Alexandria. She had lived there for about six months.

Mrs. Church moved to Arlington in 1939, and was a physicist with the National Bureau of Standards and the Department of Agriculture during World War II. Before that she had taught at Averrett College in Virginia and Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Texas.

She was born in Palmyra, Mo., and reared in Stuttgart Ark. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., about 1913.

Her husband, George Lucian Church, a government civil engineer, died in 1966.

About 25 years ago, Mrs. Church established a general scholarship fund at Ouachita Baptist University.

She was active in the First Baptist Church in Washington and belonged to the Arlington House chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Fortnightly Club.

Survivors include a daughter, Jane Holman, of Falls Church, and three grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Otela Church Scholarship Fund at Ouachita Baptist University or to the First Baptist Church, Washington.