Harry Chalmers Murto, 79, a retired hydraulic engineer for the old Federal Power Commission, died of cancer Wednesday at a hospital in Fort Myers, Fla.

He came to this area about 1933 and worked for the Department of the Interiors old soil erosion service, now the Department of Agriculture's soil conservation service.

While on loan from Agriculture, he worked with the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II and for the old National Production Authority during the Korean conflict.

He later joined the Federal Power Commission, now a part of the Department of Energy, from which he retired in 1964.

Mr. Murto was born in Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh's school of mines.

He lived in Washington before moving to Fort Myers in 1977.

He was a member of U.S. maritime Post No. 47 of the American Legion, the Cabin John and the Rock Creek Council of the Knights of Columbus, and the Wesley Heights Friendship chapter No. 1261 of the American Association of Retired Persons.He was a longtime member of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Washington.

Survivors include his wife, the former Dorothea O'Leary, of the home; eight sons, Harry C., of Sterling, William R., of Springfield, James F., of Alexandria, Francis P. and Joseph A., of Boonsboro, Md., and Richard C., of Rockville; two sisters, Mary K., and Anne M. Brown, both of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and 15 grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.