Ross Wells Kruser, 72, a retired highway official in the Department of Transportation, died Sunday at his home in Arlington after a heart attack.

He had retired at the end of 1974 as director of highway operations in the office of engineering of the Federal Highway Administration at DOT. He had started his government career here in 1934 as a highway engineer in the Bureau of Public Roads of the Commerce Department.

Mr. Kruser was born in Hampton, Iowa, and grew up in Geneva, Iowa. He earned a degree in civil engineering from Iowa State University. He worked for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority before coming here.

Mr. Kruser had served as an alternate member of the National Capital Planning Commission. In 1951, he received the Commerce Department's Meritorious Service Award.

He was a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a member of the American Association of State Highway Officials, the American Road Builders Association, the Highway Reserch Board and the Washington Road Gang. He belonged to the Clarendon Methodist Church.

His wife, the former Esther V. Siberts, whom he married in 1931, died in 1968.

He is survived by two daughters, Patricia J. Schultz, of Fairfax, and Betty Lee Bartolett, of Lansdale, Pa., and three grandchildren. CAPTION: Picture, ROSS WELLS KRUSER