Dr. Walter H. Gaumnitz, 87, who retired in 1962 as an official of the U.S. office of Education, died Sunday at George Washington University Hospital after a heart attack.

Dr. Gaumnitz was an authority on rural education in 1927 as a rural high school specialist, and later served as principal specialist on rural school research and statistics before retiring.

He was the chief U.S. delegate to the 1939 geneva conference on education. His publications include the 1959 "Survey of Education in 1,200 Rural Counties."

He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Education Association and of the Schoolmen's Club. He was a Mason and a member of the Fossils.

Dr. Gaumnitz was born in Rice, Minn., and earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Minnesota. He earned a doctoral degree at George Washington University in 1935.

Before coming to Washington, he taughy high school in Minnesota, was an instructor at the University of Minnesota from 1920 to 1922, and chairman of the social sciences department at the State Teachers College at Madison, S.D., from 1925 to 1927.

He served in the Army in France during World War I was awarded the Purple Heart.

Survivors include his wife, Agnes C., of the home in Silver Spring; a duaghter, Jean Gruber, of Silver Spring; a son, W. Glen, of Baltimore, and eight grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Westmoreland Congregational Church in Westmoreland Hills, Md. CAPTION: Picture, Dr, Walter Gaumnitz, 1963 Photo