Dr. William J. Conley, 54, a native of Washington who was an area orthodontist for the past 27 years, died of cancer Tuesday in Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Dr. conley was graduate of St. John's College High School, and earned both bachelor's and dental degrees at Georgetown University. He maintained a practice in Chevy Chase until 1976 and then in Kensington until his death.

He was a director of the Merrick Boys Camp and had served as its secretary for the past three years. He also was a member of Columbia Country Club.

Dr. conley was a member of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

His professional memberships included the American, Middle Atlantic, and Maryland State associations of orthodontics, and American Dental Association and the Southern Maryland Dental Society.

He was a Navy veteran of World War II.

Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Loh, four daughters, Ellen, Janet, Karen, and Clare, and a son, Kevin, all of the home in Chevy Chase; another son William J. Jr., of Denham Springs, La.; another daughter, Susan of San Francisco, and two brothers, Maurice J. Jr. and Robert O., both of Chevy Chase.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Vincent Lombardi Cancer Research Center at Georgetown University.