Elijah L. White, 59, a Public Health Service official, and his wife, Mary Gaulding White, 61, an abstract painter, died Thursday in an automobile accident in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland, about 40 miles west of Krakow.

Mrs White had accompanied her husband, who was in Poland on official business.

Mr white became associate director of the National Centre for Health Statistics in 1974. He joined the Public Health Service in 1957 as a survey statistician and was director of the National Health Survey's nationwide health interview survey from 1966 to 1974.

From 1960 to 1965, he also was a professional lecturer in sociology at American University.

Before joining the PHS, Mr. White worked with survey and statisticalograms for the University of Chicago, the Chicago Health Department and the Council of State Governments.

He served in Army Air Corps during World War II.

Mr. White was born in Saltillo, Tenn., and moved to Memphis, Tenn., with his family at an early age. He graduated from Memphis State University and earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago.

A native of Memphis, Mrs. Whie also graduated from Memphis State University. She later earned a master's degree in fine arts from American University.

She worked in acrylics and abstract constructions and had studios in Alexandria and Glen Echo. She previously taught elementary school and worked as a legal secretary.

Mr. and Mrs. White lived in Chevy Chase. Mr. White was a member of the Edgemoor Tennis Club, the American Statistical Association, the American Sociology Assocation and the American Public Health Association.

They are survived by a son. Andrew A., of Lansing, Mich. Mrs. White also is survived by two sisters, Roxy Gaulding, and Ophilia Frisby, and a brother, Jack Gaulding, all of Memphis, and another brother, Edgar A. Gaulding, of Eudora, Miss. Mr. White also is survived by four brothers, William A., Harvey W., John Edgar and John Edward, all of Memphis.

The families suggest that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Elijah and Mary White Memorial Student Fund, c/o the University of Michigan, Public Health Alumni Fund, Ann Arbor, Mich.