Retired Maj. Gen. Joe C. Lambert, 70, who was adjutant general of the Army during 1961-66, died of a heart attack April 23 while visiting his son, Joe Jr., in Lexington, Mass.

Gen. Lambert's last assignment before retiring in 1968 was that of president of the Department of the Army Selection Boards here. Before that he had been commanding general of the 4th Army Corps at Birmingham, Ala., for more than a year.

He was born in Washington, Ark., and grew up in Arkansas and Texas. He enlisted in the Army in 1925. Nine years later, while remaining in the regular Army, he was appointed an officer in the Army Reserve Corps.

In 1940, before this country entered World War II, Gen. Lambert was discharged as an enlisted man from the regular Army to go on active duty as a Reserve Corps officer. After the war, he was integrated as an officer into the regular Army.

He served mainly with the 14th Armored Division during the war and saw more than 150 days of ground combat in the European theater.

Gen. Lambert later was an adjutant general with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and was stationed in Germany.

He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff School, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Dora, of the home in Falls Church, and three grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, MAJ. GEN. JOE C. LAMBERT