Kingsley Higgins, 76 a retired Arlington businessman and civic leader who played a major role in founding the Arlington Committee of 100, died of cancer Friday at his Arlington home.

Mr. Higgins began taking an active role in civic affairs after moving to Arlington in 1948, and was especially involved in county planning and school board matters during the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1953, he was chairman of the organizing group that established the Arlington Committee of 100. The group of community leaders was formed in an effort to end the division between the two major local political camps: the liberals, primarily "newcomers" and government workers interested in improved and expanded public services and a modern school system, and the conservatives, mostly business leaders and established residents mainly concerned with controlling growth and preserving the tax base.

Mr. Higgins, with his partner, James Cooper, operated King James Furniture Inc. in Arlington from 1953 until his retirement in 1974, when the business was sold. Before that he was general manager of the Old Shirlington Cooperative Store and a manager for W. T. Grant stores in the mid-Atlantic region for 21 years.

Following his retirement, he was a consultant for the Small Business Administration's Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and served on a number of its committees.

Mr. Higgins was a former chairman and a member for 10 years of the Arlington County Planning Commission. He also served on its subcommittee on business zoning.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Arlington School Board, and in 1956, headed a citizens study committee to settle disputes over school bond money.

He was a former director of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and of the Foundation for Independent Junior Colleges. He belonged to Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Higgins was born in Somerville, Mass., and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Boston University.

During World War II, he was a major with the Army Air Forces.

Survivors include his wife, Jean Reid Higgins, of the home in Arlington; two sons, John, of New Orleans, La., and Duncan G., of San Rafael, Calif.; four daughters, Sarah H. Dickson, of Upperville, Va., Jean H. Parker, of Enterprise, Ala., Susan H. Keels, of Arlington, and Anne H. Foote, of Chaska, Minn.; a sister Mary H. Taylor, of Franconia, H.H., 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Kingsley Higgins Memorial Fund, Hospice of Northern Virginia in Arlington. CAPTION: Picture, KINGSLEY HIGGINS