J. Reid Key, 76, a retired regional manager, for two Florida-based tobacco companies and a resident of the Washington area for 38 years, died of emphysema Wednesday at his home in Arlington.

Mr. Key was a division manager for the American Tobacco Co. for about 13 years before coming here as an assistant regional manager for the Bayuk Cigar Co. in 1941. He retired in 1967 as regional manager of Bayuk and then became regional manager of the Bering Cigar Co., based in Tampa, Fla. He retired a second time in 1976.

A native of rockingham, N.C., Mr. Key earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1927.

Active in Westover Baptist Church in Arlington, he served as chairman of its board of deacons and as general chairman of the ushers for many years. He was a past president of the Patrick Henry Sunday school class and its recent welfare chairman.

Mr. Key was a 32nd degree Mason and a life member of Mount Hermon Lodge 118, AF&AM of Asheville, N.C. He also was a charter member of Kena Temple AAONMS of Merrifield, Va.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Pearle Wiggins, of the home in Arlington; two daughters, Pearle Ray Morris, of Columbia, S.C., and Barbara Reid Burner, of Charlottesville; two brothers, Hunter S., and Ralph D ., both of Wilmington, N.C., and three grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, J. REID KEY, 1963 Photo